Operation Ranger Up

I Have PTSD…So What?

By
Updated: March 31, 2013
post-traumatic-stress-trap_1

By RU Rob

I have PTSD. We all know what it is, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.  I am one of millions who are affected by it each and every day.  Millions of men and women who have varying symptoms yet manage to maintain a normal lifestyle.   I, along with my cohorts, have been classified as a potential powder keg just waiting on that spark to set us off into a murderous explosion of ire. This is not the case as I am just as normal as you.

At the end of every day I lay my head down in an attempt to sleep.  That in itself is no different than you. But when my eyes close and I should be drifting off into a peaceful bliss, my mind takes over and I am tormented in my dreams with a vivid and exaggerated version of every combat encounter witnessed.  There has been nary a night that I do not have this, and have not had an uninterrupted night of sleep for years.  Yet in the morning, I rise with the consistency of the sun, roll out of my sweat soaked bed, and shake off the remnants of the nightly battles and start my day…just like you.

I am functional in society, but I am a little more vigilant than you, always on the look-out for danger, avoiding large crowds and loud places.  But somehow, I can still manage to go out to eat, shop for my clothes and drive my car.  I pay close attention to those around me, see the drug deal that just took place on my right and notice the people who just don’t belong in a certain situation.  You may not have evil intentions, but I will notice nonetheless.

I have guns. As a matter of fact I just about always have one on me.  You see, even though I have PTSD, I am still a Sheepdog watching out for my flock.  I don’t brandish my weapon and most of the time you won’t even know I have it on my body, but it is there.  I also carry a large knife in my pocket, one that could cause serious injury or death if used improperly.  I have never used any of my weapons in a malicious manner and never will, but in my duties as a Sheepdog I will not hesitate to draw down on you should the circumstance warrant it.  I am armed, but I am not dangerous.

There are times that I am medicated.   My PTSD comes in cycles and when things get bad I need that extra chemical push to regulate me.  I accept this and because of it I do not drink.  I have other physical problems that could easily warrant an addiction to pain killers, but just like most of us with PTSD, I avoid it.

I have never committed violence in the workplace, just like the vast majority of those who suffer with me.  My co-workers know I spent time in the military but they do not know of my daily struggles, and they won’t.   I can still communicate with my subordinates and supervisors in a clear manner.  I have never physically assaulted anyone out of anger or rage.

It pains me when I listen to the news and every time a veteran commits a crime (or commits suicide); it is automatically linked to and blamed on PTSD. Yes, there are some who cannot control their actions due to this imbalance in our heads, but don’t put a label on us that we are all incorrigible.  Very few of us are bad.  There are more of us out there that are trying harder to do good than the lesser alternative.

Do not pity me.  I know who I am and recognize the journey that has shaped me into what I am.  I have no regrets about anything that I have done in the past and look forward to many wonderful years in the future.  I freely take every step of life during the day knowing that there is something that will haunt me at night.

For those who are like me, there is help.  Seek it out.  You were strong enough to make it this far, don’t give up.  Dig a little deeper and make that final push.  If you do not know where to go or have fallen astray, contact me. I will help.  We are all brothers and sisters in this battle that will rage invariably for eternity and the one constant is that we have each other.

To the rest of society and particularly the media: I have PTSD!

Comments

comments

265 Comments

  1. Antonio Aguilar

    February 5, 2012 at 10:52 pm

    Thanks. I was hoping for some stuff on PTSD. I got lucky and moved past the occasional nightmare. Some of my buddies, not so much. I’m passing this on, hoping it helps.

    • Gale Winters

      October 1, 2012 at 2:07 pm

      Thanks for this. It is worth sharing. My nightmares lasted over 35 years, as did the sweats, checking doors and exits 5 times a night, waking up twice that many times, not going into strange places, crowds, sitting with your back to the wall, counting heads in a restaurant, and all else that comes with this disease/condition/disorder. My treatment has been a godsend, and my Group Therapy brothers as close as anyone can get. With help, PTSD can be beat.

      • Thomas

        June 15, 2013 at 11:05 pm

        Last night’s nightmare was pretty bad. What ever I was doing was pretty evil.Some nights I have pitbulls chasing me chewing off my fingers. I sure hope that I don’t have to do this for 35 years. After I started having problems I lost my marriage. I am really hard my everyone including myself. I have a hard time looking for reasons to keep going.

        • Kellen

          June 26, 2013 at 11:09 am

          Thomas, I hope that you read this. There is always a reasons to keep going even if its just to prove that you’re a hardheaded S.O.B.. Please get help and if you need to talk my email is kd0g1982@yahoo.com. Stay strong.

    • Curtis

      February 5, 2013 at 5:42 pm

      I recently resigned an appointment to a national veterans council over the organization’s failure to listen to veterans positions on their proposal for awarding the Purple Heart for PTSD. The local PNR station (KUOW) aired a few minutes on the matter. (http://www.kuow.org/post/group-wants-more-recognition-soldiers-post-traumatic-stress).
      My thank you to the reporter for covering this on my request included the following:
      “And I most sincerely hope that never will terrorists or any of America’s enemies dance in the streets celebrating the mass Purple Heart awards for wounds known as PTSD that they will claim were caused by the enemy. The potential recruitment and bragging rights could do nothing but harm to those who serve in uniform now or ever. Those of us with PTSD accept the cost of serving our country and ask only for fair access to treatment and, when appropriate, compensation. We do not regret. We are proud of our service in spite of any of our weaknesses or failures. We would serve again if our bodies would just do what our minds and hearts would have them do. We would do so that others would be spared what we have endured, that our family and friends would not know what we have known. It is our purpose to protect everyone we love and know and all Americans that keeps us from easily or fully sharing what no one should live with. As we do this, we endure in the hope that others who were not there will not have to go there and will not also have to endure as we do.”

      • Thomas

        June 15, 2013 at 11:07 pm

        I know I am a huge source of nightmares in a lot of lives while I was there.

  2. John Rich

    February 7, 2012 at 8:09 am

    Charlie Mike Brother!

  3. Mike C

    February 7, 2012 at 8:17 am

    Thank you. Also have quite a few buddies that have PTSD and it galls me to no end when they are demonized as psycho’s by the media.

    Semper Fi!!

    • gregg h

      September 30, 2012 at 9:16 am

      You hit the nail on the head I wish all the so-called shrinks at the VA would read this article. They might understand a little bit more.

  4. Beau Chatham

    February 7, 2012 at 9:16 am

    Rob,

    I got one word for you…Outstanding!

    Thanks for a take charge attitude and sharing this with a tough crowd.

    You truly R’dTFU, brother!

    All the best,

    Beau Chatham
    CEO & Tribal Leader
    Warrior Life Coach

  5. Bill H

    February 7, 2012 at 9:56 am

    Well said!!! I too have seemed to have moved on from the dreams, but the memory of my experiences jumps into my consciousness sometimes for no apparant reason?? Otherwise I am pretty much the same as Rob.

    Bill H RVN 6/67= 11/70
    RLTW

    • RU Rob

      February 8, 2012 at 12:20 pm

      Welcome home Bill H!

    • mike m

      February 8, 2012 at 9:27 pm

      roger that i know what your talking about there.

  6. Benjamin A.

    February 7, 2012 at 10:08 am

    Thanks, I too, was hoping about something on PTSD. I’m passing this to all my friends to show them they aren’t alone in how they behave from this.

  7. Lou

    February 7, 2012 at 10:59 am

    This article is nothing but the true! We dedicate our lives to protect the country and the media does nothing except report the bad things that happen when we are involved. When we are involved it is not a pretty sight and it lives with us forever. We gave up a portion of our life to defend the USA (for me – I felt it was my duty to serve!). Our brothers (any service member) have a long road to fight PTSD, but it very possible to improvise, adapt, overcome this! I know that it is hard, but the best advice that was giving to me was “let it out! Talk to someone about the issues that you are having!” yes the medication is out there to help us, but who in the right mind wants to drugs the rest of their live? Yes, I also have PTSD! I have the dreams/nightmares that came with my job, but I am now normal civilian that has retired from the military. PTSD is not only link to us in the military even though most think it is. It can happen to anyone that has traumatic life experience, so yes! There are others out there that have this issue. Help is only a question away!
    To the author: thank you for the great article which expresses the truth about what we see each 24 hour cycle of our life!

    • Clark

      February 9, 2012 at 9:22 am

      Thanks Lou for mentioning that not only the military may be suffering. I’ve been a paid FF/EMT for the last 8 years and in the fire service for about 11 years total. Never a night goes by that I do not dream about my “job”. I work five days a week and am on call 24/7 but even “off duty” I am always a FF/EMT.

      • Valerie

        February 15, 2012 at 12:20 pm

        Clark, it’s always a pleasure to meet a brother FF, even on line. One of the best things to prepare me for what was about to hit me was having an instructor with a thousand yard stare and the willingness to share how he got it. He said, regarding PTSD, “It’s when you get it, not if.” He then gave all us probies and students a very indepth rundown of what to expect and what to do when -not if- we have to deal with any critical stress. When the first flashback of a particularly nasty pediatric trauma came, I can’t say I was ready for it, but it didn’t catch me by surprise- and that alone probably prevented a lot of additional stress and heartache.

    • Holly

      September 17, 2012 at 2:36 pm

      I am not in the military, but I suffer the same symptoms: nightmares, the state of constant high-alert – always ready for the next attack, I shake almost constantly – haven’t had a peaceful sleep in many years. Family and friends don’t understand – almost all of them treat you differently once they hear ‘PTSD’. There are whispers and looks – you know what they are thinking. I am so sick of people feeling sorry for me. There IS help out there. I am doing EMDR therapy and have seen some results. I also talk to my therapist about my abuse, my abuser, every trauma that I can remember. It is painful to go through, but afterwards I am a little better. Now, a year later, I look back and see that I have come a long way. I am quite sure that you will never be the same person you once were, but you can still be strong and a positive member of society.

  8. Mike Sparks

    February 7, 2012 at 11:28 am

    Thanks I have PTSD, too and I am armed but not dangerous. I looked for help and need the a prescription to stabilize the chemicals in my brain but I refuse todrink alcohol to cope but will always help any person needing it.

  9. Corey B.

    February 7, 2012 at 12:41 pm

    We with PTSD are not the “bad guys”. But the media and their lust for ratings and self enrichment.

    AIRBORNE!

    • MarriedtoPTSD

      September 17, 2012 at 7:36 pm

      My husband was 82nd Airborne in the Persian Gulf War. He has three bronze stars. It took him 20 years to go get help at the Denver VA. They saved his life. I met him about 3 years into his treatment. He is 100% disabled. We have had to deal with issues related to his PTSD, but I have never feared my husband. He is the most wonderful husband and he is willing to talk to me so I understand him. When he is having a hard time he becomes withdrawn and caves up. Currently he off most of his meds because he has progressed through therapy and learned what his stressors are. I encourage all service members with symptoms to seek help. It does get better and there is no time limit on getting help. My husband is learning to embrace his hyper-vilgilance rather than curse it. He will probably always have some symptoms, but he is healing daily. I just wanted to share from a wife’s perspective. You have no idea how many times I was called nuts because I was dating a soldier with PTSD and they God forbid married him!!! He is the love of my life and my best friend. Have faith there is hope.

      • vir

        January 24, 2013 at 6:26 pm

        :)
        i smiled after reading this. there is hope :)

      • mle

        March 10, 2013 at 8:18 pm

        Agree with vir, but it is taking a lot of patience.

  10. John kessel

    February 7, 2012 at 1:23 pm

    I hate when I tell people I have ptsd and they look at me like some monster. I’m just like the article above..and I would gladly be called a monster because I’m american and I will defend this country with every breath of life inside my body.

  11. Rich D

    February 7, 2012 at 1:27 pm

    I have been struggling for a long time with this. My marriage was destroyed and right now I’m barely hanging on to my career. I finally got the wake up I needed and have just started getting help. The hardest part is rebuilding my reputation. Drinking to cope with PTSD has caused me to do some stupid things and has cost me a lot of money, respect and integrity. I have avoided the PTSD label becuase I didnt want to be thought of as “broken” or “unstable”….it was the booze making me unstable and I’m only broken as long as I am not getting “fixed”. Thank you for writing this.

    • RU Rob

      February 8, 2012 at 8:58 am

      Rich D: Ruck up buddy, it isn’t going to be easy. This road march is going to have some hills that are going to kick your ass. The weight of your ruck is going to seem unbearable at times, but you CAN make it. You WILL make it. Now is the time to RTFU! Reach out if you need a hand, you can pass some of the weight off to me. “It’s about the man next to you, and that’s it!”

      • 92A USA HOOAH

        May 10, 2012 at 3:33 pm

        Rob, Thank you. Your article your choice of words speaks volumes loud and clear for me and for so many that have replied in response. We raised our right hands we swore to an oath, we trained side by side we took responsibility to keep each other squared away, always reminded to never fuck your buddy. We learned everything about one another, our families, friends, body identifiers, tattoos, and what we believed and felt was what was significant and defined us, our lives, our identities. We need to feel this stability among us when reaching out to get help to feel its safe to be able to let someone else in that can help us stand down, relax and get the help we need to Adapt, Overcome and Move Out in a positive way to keep our Honor and Integrity and our Thoughts in check. My experiences with the Houston VA suck. Someone once said, “A soldier alone is a dead soldier”..Thank you Rhino Den, Ranger Up Rob, and the others out here in the WWW that are trying to make those connections with us and to call us all back into formation. I miss my brothers and sisters from my unit. Those that made it home and those that didn’t. I’ve been rucking my pack for 13 years… I’m tired…but I’m not giving up..I’m still dragging my ass across the line and will do so until God calls me home. I love you all very much and I know so long as we continue to look out for and take care of our own we are going to be fine. No we will never be the way we were before, out lives will never be the way it was before..for some of us this is a good thing..and for others it’s not..all we can do is watch out for one another because that is what we do.
        ~92A Out~

    • Bryan

      February 12, 2012 at 7:06 am

      Rich you are not alone! Your brothers in arms are fighting this battle with you. I too blew most of my life away with the drinking. I woke up one day and decided enough is enough, I need help. The best thing I ever did was drag my ass into the VA and ask for help. Being with others opened my eyes that I was not suffering alone. Now I am a critical care nurse, my life is great and things are manageable. They will never go away, but I don’t want them too. My life is shaped by those experiences. You can win this battle. Harden The F Up, put that ruck on and march. There are people there that will pack your ruck for you until you get on pace!
      Semper Fi! We all fight together until the end.

  12. J Schram

    February 7, 2012 at 2:54 pm

    PTSD I guess we all have our demons that visit us. Some more than others.
    I myself have been on klonopin for 4 years. Helps alot, stops the rage, I guess that’s what you would call it and memory blackouts.
    I don’t regret the active military experience, but I do find it difficult the way other people perceive it. It seems that the news always has to mention that ” this guy was a vet” if it concerns any type of violent crime.
    Funny story, was laying in bed with my girlfriend watching “Hawaiia Five O”. Story is about a Navy Seal that’s off his meds , acussed of killing his wife. ( of course he didn’t do it). But he tells the police that he’s on KLONOPIN for PTSD . My girlfriend looks at me and states “you took your meds didn’t you”. Stereotyping.
    Well that’s it for me. J Schram

    • Sarge

      March 5, 2012 at 12:33 am

      You’re going to hate it when you try to come off your Klonopins. DO NOT EVER just stop taking them. I’ve been on them for 4 years myself 1mg twice daily. A few months ago I was thrown in the county jail on a bogus Medical Marijuana charge, I’m a registered patient and caregiver.

      When I was being booked, I told them I had my meds and didn’t want to be taken off them. So, they took all my clothes, underwear, socks, threw me a “Bam Bam” blanket and threw me in a “Mental Health” cell with loonies that would scream all night and put me on a “Forced Benzo Detox” as they called it. Basically they just cut me off cold turkey. Talk about 12 days of pure hell, the body tremors, watching your skin crawl. When the “shadow people” start showing up, that’s when it gets scary. The mini seizures period was hell also. I called it the “tazings” as you’re sitting there and you feel like someone just tazed you. You jerk, arms shoot out and you end up hurting yourself hitting the wall or anything from the reflex.

      I want off them, but when I wake in the morning, I need one bad after the night of nightmares. My Mental Health doc at the VA said it would be like a 30-45 day withdrawal program to be taken off of the Klonopins.

      • combatjumpmaster

        July 10, 2012 at 8:41 am

        Sarge, that totally sucks. Benzo withdrawal (and alcohol withdrawal too) can KILL. The seizures you described can cause death. I would sue the bastards for everything they had for not taking care of you, especially in a mental health section of the jail. I take Klonopin 2mg twice a day, and it keeps me under control, even at night most of the time. I tried to back off it during the day, but couldn’t, even being on morphine at the time (I stopped the opioids in April, after 8 years of being in a fog). I’d rather be in more pain than not live. I once accidentally got too much pain med (Fentanyl patch over a small skin irritation), and laid down to read. Mistake. I spring up in bed with an IV in me, surrounded by paramedics and sheriffs. The sheriffs had unsnapped the retention straps on their sidearms, because my wife told the medics I was on meds from the VA for PTSD and chronic pain (sheriffs were there probably to arrest me if had OD’ed on heroin or an unprescribed medication). I was out for 45 minutes, and earned the nickname “Papa Smurf” from the lack of O2. I couldn’t even move, and they were prepared to shoot me in my bed. And I found out later one was a Marine combat vet. Maybe that’s why they didn’t draw…

        I used to be a PTSD therapist at the VA, but it really aggravated my own. I still can remember almost every vet’s story, and sometimes they mix with my own at night. But like I told them, PTSD is a normal reaction to abnormal things…

    • BrassSpurs

      March 18, 2012 at 3:06 pm

      It may not have been stereotyping on her part. On the show? Yes. But she may have just forgotten about your meds until hearing ‘Klonopin’ on TV, then quick reminded you while she was still thinking about it.

      I’ve done the same with my hubby, whether it’s something as simple as antibiotics or whether the meds are for something more mental/emotional. I’d rather remind him than watch him go through the hell of forgetting when he last took them and either skip a day or double up. It’s not stereotyping; it’s just making sure to follow the directions on the label.

      And, trust me, I appreciate it when he does the same for me.

  13. Chris

    February 7, 2012 at 3:47 pm

    Well Said… Gods Speed..

  14. Kelly

    February 7, 2012 at 3:51 pm

    Rob, thank you for your sacrafice and every sleepless night since. I am one of the masses who never served in the military but have some symptoms of PTSD from other events. we all suffer but we can overcome if we are brave enough. for thoes who dont, I pitty but do not deminish there suffering. you are a brave soul to share your experiences with us. Carry on soldier, we’ve got your back.

  15. Mr. Twisted

    February 7, 2012 at 3:52 pm

    Fantastic article, Rob. Thank you for writing this. It needed to be said and needs repeating.

  16. Kendra

    February 7, 2012 at 4:00 pm

    Thank you for writing this. It really chaps my ass when the media focuses on ptsd as the root cause of a violent act. I felt like I was reading something I wrote myself when I read this.

  17. Ryan W.

    February 7, 2012 at 4:10 pm

    Thanks for writing that. That pretty accurately expressed how I’ve felt inside but couldn’t figure out an intelligent way to say it. And I still got that little “swell” of pride in my chest as I read it…

  18. Alex Kenney

    February 7, 2012 at 4:17 pm

    Great write Rob, I wish I could get everyone I know to take a few minutes out of their day to read this.

    It’s always one or the other of these ridiculous polar opposites I get when people learn I left the Military on PTSD-Related Disability. I get treated like a crazy person, friends and family constantly question if I’m depressed, or worse people will call me a fake, a quitter, or other things of that nature.

    People who haven’t been in our shoes don’t and won’t understand, and frankly I wish they’d just acknowledge this fact and stop thinking of me as Alex Kenney PTSD Patient and just as Alex Kenney.

    Hooah!

  19. Dillon

    February 7, 2012 at 4:49 pm

    Thank you. These are the words I have been searching for.

  20. Dragon GI

    February 7, 2012 at 5:11 pm

    Lead the Way Hero!

    HUAH!

  21. Griff

    February 7, 2012 at 5:16 pm

    Amen to that brother! It is amazing that we can push throught this stereotype of “crazed maniacs just looking for a place to blow”!

  22. Shane

    February 7, 2012 at 5:28 pm

    Wow. I thought I was the only one at times. Where I work seems to be the place I get it. Great job!

  23. Liz Grow

    February 7, 2012 at 5:39 pm

    It’s very brave of you to open up and because you have, you will give others the courage to do so. Well done, I’m sharing

  24. Dawne W.

    February 7, 2012 at 6:18 pm

    This so fit me today! THANK YOU!

  25. Josh

    February 7, 2012 at 6:25 pm

    That could not have been put any better.

  26. Sapper

    February 7, 2012 at 6:42 pm

    Great job man!…I know how you feel and I know there are many out there that feel the same and are probably a little comforted by reading your story. There’s still times when I feel like I’m alone, an outcast but it has gotten better…the frequency of sleepless nights had gone down dramatically, along with waking up trying to breath. It can only get better, aslong as we take care of one another.

  27. kuhndog

    February 7, 2012 at 6:42 pm

    I just want to say thank you for showing the rest of us that we can still lead a normal life. And that there are struggles we face but we are the same as everybody else. Its just comforting to know that people are going through the same thing as me and are doing well. Thank you.

  28. jim

    February 7, 2012 at 6:55 pm

    1) you nailed it!
    2) you deal with it!
    3) you are doing something good; with it, and about it!
    If that dosen’t deserve a medal, I don’t know what does…
    and yeah, I have it too… I am not the same person I was before I left for Iraq, but, I am better for it…

  29. Kevin

    February 7, 2012 at 8:09 pm

    I have PTSD. Why me and not the rest of my Squadron, I don’t know and I don’t care. All I can say is somthing in my brain broke and I can’t fix it. I wish I could still be there flying with my team but I am not, so I move on. I am a graduate student, a husband, a son and brother. I go on, day after day, exhausted every night as if I had been fighting for my life in the most mundane situations. You see, my fight or flight response is perpetually on. I shake and sweat, I lose my confidence, I grit my teeth and secretly hate myself but you’ll never know. I learned to cope and disguise my pain so I can be who I supposed to be. I don’t know when I’ll put the armor down but carrying it is exhausting.

    • Shannon

      February 15, 2012 at 8:52 am

      I’m not sure who you are Kevin…but I just added you personally to my prayer list!!! God is amazing….thank you for being a hero!!! Hang in there!!! May you soon find peace!!!

    • jamie

      May 13, 2012 at 5:16 am

      I was in an abusive relationship for 28 years, and I am also the face of PTSD. YOU described my ordeal. Bless you as you courageously walk in the Light of Healing on a daily basis. All the best.

  30. Mac Gutierrez, Army Vietnam veteran

    February 7, 2012 at 8:18 pm

    Well said, although no one knows the Hell that we live in, there are many levels of PTSD. For some of us, we were able to dust off and move on with life, despite ocasional reaccurances. For others they may not have been so lucky. Just remember we are brothers, and brothers help each other. Welcome home soldiers.

  31. Krystal

    February 7, 2012 at 8:31 pm

    I would really like to include this in our frg newsletter – would that be ok?

    • Kelly

      February 8, 2012 at 8:40 am

      Sure thing

    • RU Rob

      February 8, 2012 at 9:00 am

      ABSOLUTELY

  32. Gretchen

    February 7, 2012 at 10:13 pm

    My thanks to all you service men and women. You are so brave on the field and off the field. You are appreciated by so many of us. I wish the media would pick this up and do a great service for you by bringing this subject to all of us in the way you have so elequently wrote it. Thank you for your insight :)
    Blessings to all,
    Gretchen

  33. thomas w

    February 7, 2012 at 10:13 pm

    This needed to be said
    OIF veteran and OEF veteran and still a law abiding citizen

  34. Tara Plybon

    February 7, 2012 at 10:24 pm

    Rob,

    Thank you for voicing what many of our guys and girls need to get out there. PTSD is a normal reaction to witnessing something horrible and it is not something to be embarrassed about and you can learn to handle what triggers you. Sadly, there is no way to remove the horrible nightmares, but there are new things that are showing some promise. What is amazing to me is how many families do not care to support the mental health of their soldiers. How can you expect a guy to go through something horrible and not have issues with nightmares or PTSD. Thank you, thank you for writing this. God Bless.

  35. Tina

    February 8, 2012 at 12:20 pm

    Thank you for sharing your story. Like many others it hit close to home. I have someone in my life that is a wonderful & amazing man. 4 years ago when I met him he was drinking a lot, but was functioning in society. He had a great job working as contractor on the army base. From the outside looking in no one knew of his struggles. Now 4 years later he is unemployed& struggles to make it thru each day. He is on medication for his PTSD & recently was hospitalized for mental collapse. He is always on guard waiting for something big to happen where he will have to defend his country again. It is a daily struggle for him as well as us as a family. My prayers to everyone suffering/dealing with PTSD. In my eyes & heart he still is a wonderful & amazing man because he gets better everyday.

  36. Melinda Beindorf

    February 8, 2012 at 1:47 pm

    Well said. I have PTSD, MDD, and MAD. Although mine is not combat related I have been dealing with this for 20+ years and I commend you on speaking out. I have found it to be a long lonely road full of Dr after DR and pill after pill. I rarely sleep but managing to keep that fake smile on my face. It is nice to read someone who has so much strength and keeps pushing through. Thank you for sharing

  37. chase

    February 8, 2012 at 1:58 pm

    What do they expect Jeeze

  38. SoldierGrrrl

    February 8, 2012 at 2:20 pm

    Thanks, man. These are good words and ones that need to be heard.

  39. Doc _ R

    February 8, 2012 at 2:51 pm

    I too have PTSD. I try to keep it hidden from coworkers, family, friends. The reason I hide it is because the media has made people with PTSD monsters. This artical needs to be put in everyone’s email to get the word out that we are just as normal as everyone else.

  40. Dawn

    February 8, 2012 at 3:26 pm

    I asked my husband, half way through reading this, if he actually wrote this. The media has no idea what goes on in your heads just like us spouses don’t. We don’t pretend to so the media needs to back off. Our soldiers risk more than anyone could ever ask for and for some Americans to label is more of an insult than they should have to bare. I am thankful for all the sacrifies, both physical and mental, that our brave soldiers give everyday. And thank you for writing this and giving another outlet to the PTSD sufferers.

  41. patrick

    February 8, 2012 at 4:23 pm

    For those of us recently started the battle with ptsd I thank you for this. It terrifys me to tell someone or talk about it and this helps knowing other people can learn to live with it. Thanks again

  42. Army Mom

    February 8, 2012 at 4:37 pm

    I don’t have PTSD, but I do have a son who is fighting in AFghanistan. I’m also a nurse who has had a few veterans of recent wars come through our practice. I have nothing but respect for them. I know they nor anyone veteran wants to be pitied, but there is a certain amount of pity that is normal to feel for a civilian. Pity in that you guys don’t get the treatment you need and that you guys/gals are looked at at ‘messed up’ or ‘crazy’. It’s a shame people can’t be more compassionate toward their fellow human being. Also, the fact that the media drools over these issues and twists the rare occasion of a veteran going off the deep end into something that people tend to shy away from and cringe at. It tends to make people wince every time they are around a veteran, wondering when that person will go off the deep-end and hoping it’s not while they are around them. People are ignorant. PTSD can happen to anyone who goes through a traumatic situation. And personally, I think THOSE people are more at risk of harming someone, rather a veteran. The veteran has seen enough bloodshed and death. They don’t want to create more.

  43. James

    February 8, 2012 at 7:06 pm

    This is so true. Thank you. I have been avoiding the help that i need because i have always thought that if i can not control my mind what difference would a pill make. I try to control the dreams and thoughts that i have but have avoided the meds. I am getting help and have avioded the meds but it looks like i can be me with them too. Thanks again you have pushed me in the direction i need to go.

  44. Chris Loy

    February 8, 2012 at 7:28 pm

    I’m not a vet and I have PTSD. Another aspect to vast misinterpretation of the disease…. I lived through a traumatic experience and relive it over and over with different triggers. Never knowing when it will happen.
    But then again we are all “broken” in our own ways. I’m not any worse off than the next person down the road, and certainly better off than a lot of others.
    The job that needs done won’t stop because I’m flashing back, but I can take my break and come back moving along with life.
    Mental illness of any sort is a taboo subject in our culture. One mention of PTSD and the situation has suddenly become awkwardly silent. No one knows what to say.
    Some times I want to say “I’m not going to go crazy, okay!?!?” Some times I just want to walk away. Usually I just tell them, “Don’t worry. It is okay.”

  45. C. Loy

    February 8, 2012 at 7:39 pm

    I’m an army brat, not a vet and I have PTSD. Another aspect to vast misinterpretation of the disease…. I lived through a traumatic experience and relive it over and over with different triggers. Never knowing when it will happen.
    But then again we are all “broken” in our own ways. I’m not any worse off than the next person down the road, and certainly better off than a lot of others.
    The job that needs done won’t stop because I’m flashing back, but I can take my break and come back moving along with life.
    Mental illness of any sort is a taboo subject in our culture. One mention of PTSD and the situation has suddenly become awkwardly silent. No one knows what to say.
    Some times I want to say “I’m not going to go crazy, okay!?!?” Some times I just want to walk away. Usually I just tell them, “Don’t worry. It is okay.”

  46. Eddy

    February 8, 2012 at 7:41 pm

    I’ve been looking for something close to this for a while. I’m about a week or two from re-launching a blog I run that discusses pretty much anything and I have been looking for something like this. I would like your permission to feature this on my blog as well as featuring it on the blog’s Facebook page, if you do not mind. I had a man who had been Infantry before his switch to Reserves (and back to AD) living in my apartment for a while because he was a Geo-bachelor but couldn’t get rooming on-post who also had PTSD. The only thing he told me was that I absolutely could not wake him from the foot of the bed or with loud banging noises. That was it. And I understood. He rarely spoke of his experiences, or his flashbacks but if he thought he had one he was quiet and asked not be bothered that night. He never put it into words what it felt like, and I never asked. So I’ve seen it through others, but I’ve never seen him act like anything but a normal person. So if I could feature this on my blog it would be an immense honor. Thank you very much, and I’ll be sure to recommend this site.

    • RU Rob

      February 9, 2012 at 6:44 am

      Eddy: Feel free to use this.

  47. Alan

    February 8, 2012 at 7:44 pm

    I just want to extend a very very appreciative thank you from someone that struggles just as you are and surrounds himself by fellow brothers and sisters. I am still trying to find my way and yes its a daily struggle, but thanks to the ones that step up and put themselves out there for the rest of us, we all have a chance to live normal lives comparitive to our past battles. When I can stand on my on feet and become the leader I was, I will take what I have learn and touch more than I can now, but until then I will provide support in anyway I can. Thank you again and to all my brothers and sisters out there, manage yourself as best you can and find help within your peers, we may now wear the uniform anymore but we will still fight by your side against any that thread upon you.

  48. Eddy

    February 8, 2012 at 7:49 pm

    It’s nice to see this put out, and so well at that. I’ve always wondered, but never asked anyone because I knew that it just wouldn’t be right but I’ve seen others with PTSD, lived with one as well. There were few things that were different from the regular populace that they did or wanted (or didn’t do/like) but otherwise these seemed like regular people. And it’s nice to finally see it, see your side of it.

    I am a soldier myself; though I am less likely to see the things you may have, and I am about to relaunch a blog where myself and others discuss just about anything and I would like your permission to feature this on my blog once it has been relaunched next week.

    I hope things become easier for you, but it is good to see that you have such a good attitude about it – as with others who also have PTSD. Thank you, Rob. Both for your service and for putting this out for people to see.

  49. Alan

    February 8, 2012 at 7:51 pm

    Thank you

  50. Jay Orner

    February 8, 2012 at 7:54 pm

    I to have PTSD cause of a trama that happened to me when i was 15 …that day haunts me every minute of the day … but i cant live my life in fear cause if i do i know that it will get the best of me and i will not do that to my family or myself… everyone that has PTSD knows how hard it is going through life with it … but there is light at the end of the tunnel … u can manage ur life with this if u do it in a healthy way…God bless all my fellow people with this we all must stick together
    God Bless

  51. Josh T.

    February 8, 2012 at 7:58 pm

    HOOAH! and well said. Thank you for writing this. OIF Vet

  52. Jay Orner

    February 8, 2012 at 8:01 pm

    That article really helped

  53. Oscar Rodriguez

    February 8, 2012 at 8:23 pm

    THANK YOU for being my voice brother.

  54. michelle

    February 8, 2012 at 8:36 pm

    i never wanted to admit that i had a problem with my nightmares and memories of things that happened to me and things that happened to my battle buddy while we were deployed. Now i have come to the realization that after almost 7 years of being home that i need help with my ptsd. i have contacted mental health, had my eval done and am getting ready to start group counceling and individual counceling. I HAVE PTSD, but i function normally, take care of my two small children, go to school full time, tend to my house and my wifely duties around the house, i go to the store )even though i dont like crowds and noises), i drive (even though i dont like to drive but i will not drive at night anymore too many flashbacks nightdriving), i take medication everyday, but yet if you saw me in the store or walking and playing with my children you would never know. Thanks for this article. Sometimes admitting it is the hardest part and i am just now admitting it.

    • SnakebitN

      September 10, 2012 at 10:45 am

      I enjoyed reading your comment about PTSD and how you went about your daily routine.Like everybody else here I have been diagnoised with PTSD.I got back in 05 (retired in 2010 when I hit 60)my career started in 1969-2010.I was a medic most of time,I have other MOS’s & schools.The medical field seemed to be my calling.I noticed things were not right off the bat going thru DEMOB,I barely made it thru the briefings without going off.Way too many people talking at once and way too much noise.I went to the clinic and they started me on Klonopin x’s 4 TID sorry old habits,1mg.4 times aday.It suppressed the Dr.Jeckle & Mr. Hyde syndrome as I call it.Now 7years later I still take Klonopin and more,counceling meetings,divorce(cause I wasn’t the same person when I got back)who is ? I still have the Dr.Jeckle Mr.Hyde moments,at a flip of the switch no warnings except I feel tension starting in my neck.So I take a pill and go to bed for a bit and Iam fine when I get up.Meds & Counceling & I see a shrink every month or so stay away from things: movies,large groups,situations that I know will flip my switch.It works and you just have to make adjustments to your routine.Anyone can email me for Help on this site or the other site.

  55. The Eggman

    February 8, 2012 at 8:51 pm

    All I can say is I couldn’t have said it better myself…

    I can’t stand how women react to the fact I don’t drink, all I say is I quit after my first trip to the combat zone. Haven’t had a drink since September 2005 and I get sick of having to explain that when I got back some of my buddies got themselves in trouble so I decided I best not head down the same path.

    A week ago I stood on a street corner afraid to walk into a wing place without a “battle buddy.” I had no problem staring people down on the street but couldn’t find the intestinal fortitude to walk in the door. I’d have rather blown a hole in the wall than walk thru that door alone. I texted my friends and they sent a 98 pound female out to escort me in.

    Problem solved!

    Or so I thought because everyone else got there before me I had to sit with my back to the crowd… after about an hour and a half I wanted to jump out of my skin.

    You should see the looks I get when I pull out ear plugs in a bar, restaurant, concert, etc… I hate loud noises!

    I think that the worst thing I have to deal with is my inability to confront people… I have messages on my phone going back over 2 months because I don’t want to hear what they have to say. I’ve been know to walk 2 to 3 block out of the way in order to avoid someone.

    I used to like to be alone… I wasn’t lonely I just liked the solitude. Now I’m afraid to be alone and I don’t understand why?

    My latest girlfriend dumped me because she couldn’t deal with my issues saying it was her, not me but I know the truth.

    After I opened up to her things changed… I know that I’m better off without her but like I said I hate to be alone! It is no fun coming home to an empty house.

    I am getting help and I’m better than I was… The crying spells only come on once in a while thanks to my meds which numb me to my feelings. The anxiety attacks coupled with the shakes that come on out of nowhere are the only outward signs I think I have that let the outside world or 99% know I have something going on. My brothers and sisters who know what I’m going thru can pick me out in a crowd and come over and give me a hug (I’m starting to tear up as I write this) and it seems to help to know that I’m not alone.

    I want my life back! But that’s not going to happen anytime soon so I must continue to work on getting it back.

    Thanks for writing/posting your story!

    Peace be with you my brother!

    • RU Rob

      February 9, 2012 at 6:49 am

      The Eggman: Hang in there brother. There is no insta-fix for us. It will take time and effort but there is light at the end of the tunnel. Keep moving forward, you will reach it.

    • Nima

      February 10, 2012 at 1:45 pm

      The Eggman: You’re definitely NOT alone. I was nodding through your whole post. I totally understand everything you said, and often have the same fears. Don’t give up, brother. Keep plugging ahead! Getting help is tough and at times the hardest thing you’ll ever do, but it’s so worth it in the end. Take care of yourself. :)

    • Dani

      September 17, 2012 at 8:14 pm

      Eggman-Hang in there! There are many “right” women out there. Prayers offered Heavenward for you and all servicemen & women who served PTSD or otherwise.

      I have PTSD from incident in childhood (now 47)but get the same stupid looks and comments when it comes up. Even with health professionals!! LOL

      Hugs sent your way Man!

  56. Patrick Harvey

    February 8, 2012 at 9:01 pm

    Thank you

  57. Kathy Coles

    February 8, 2012 at 9:13 pm

    Thank you so much for writing this. I am the wife of a 2 deployment OIF veteran, I have seen the change in my husband since he returned. He went to the VA and asked for help, and was in counseling, however he had to be prodded into going as he thought ” I am Army strong, not a weak soldier” however we kept telling him that a strong soldier would ask for help. I have seen first hand how the therapy has helped him, however there is still a long road ahead. Our son and I have learned some of the triggers and have seen when we are in a crowded place how he is constantly watching, normally with sunglasses on so that nobody else can see his eyes constantly moving, we have learned when we go to a restaurant the first question we ask him is where do you want to sit? He is able to work a civilian job even after having a rough night. Unfortunately, when he was filing his disability claim the psychologist who spent 5 mins with him decided he didn’t have PTSD because when the dr asked him how he was he said “fine”. However, the therapists he worked with at theVA said he clearly has PTSD.

  58. Myke B

    February 8, 2012 at 9:15 pm

    The writing is spot on about something that a lot of people over look. Someone with PTSD is still a person, they’ve just got a few more things (tough things)than the rest of us to deal with. I didn’t have the privilege to serve, but I try to support the friends and family I have who did. One of the things that has always bothered me is the portrayal of service members who have seen combat as somehow broken. Like you wrote above RU Rob, dangerous, violent and on edge is all the media wants to show. Every TV show with a returned vet his them unstable, always dangerous to those close to them. News and media reports never show the positive actions of veterans it seems, only the crime, violence, or sadly, suicides.

    I guess all us civilians can, and should, do is show some respect and treat veterans like real people. Not fragile, broken beings on the raw edge of violence. And when someone reaches out for help, give what you can, help them reach what you can’t offer and have enough wisdom to tell the difference between the two.

  59. mike m

    February 8, 2012 at 9:33 pm

    hey brother and sister from a diffent mother this is great what he was saying is great. made me think holy cow some of that is me

  60. Mike A.

    February 8, 2012 at 9:56 pm

    Awesome stuff… I have PTSD, and I’m a Cop.

    OIF/OEF Vet 11C3P

    • RU Rob

      February 9, 2012 at 6:55 am

      Mike A: So am I brother, so am I

      11C3PF7GM

  61. N Chris

    February 8, 2012 at 10:07 pm

    ive noticed there area lot fo ppl out there with this issue as i have it as well. it was a long strucgle just like everyone esle with the drinking and all. then i flipped out and was sent to s phsyc ward for eval. and then to the VA turns out i had ptsd something i didnt want to say i had . but now im ok with it. at the start of it i was taking 19 pills a day since it was soo bad but today almost 2 years later i have only 4 pills a day . but i still have the symptoms but copping with them a little better. i would like to send a thank you to everyone that posted on here.

  62. William Wallace

    February 8, 2012 at 10:34 pm

    This is a masterpiece. You really have touched many people with this article. Thank you for taking the time and writing this. Good luck one your future.

    -I am the Queen of battle, FALLOW ME!

  63. Patricia Page

    February 8, 2012 at 10:56 pm

    My Marine son and I had a discussion about this just last night. He expressed the same sentiments and I agree. Thank you for sharing your insight and expressing it so well.

  64. barbara irwin

    February 8, 2012 at 11:53 pm

    whatdoesnt kill us makes us stronger! the PTSD individuals are our strongest and bravest Americans for they not only live for themselves but for those who didnt come home !! no love is greater than those who give and stand for those who cannot stand for them selves ! GOD BLESS YOU ALL and we THANK YOU FOR ALL YOUR SACRAFICES,BRAVERY AND VALOUR!! we can never repay,But HONOR EACH AND EVERY ONE OF OUR MILATARY ANGELS! STAND STRONG AND PROUD BECAUSE YOU ALL DESERVE OUR r.e.s.p.e.c.t.!!!! LOVE TO ALL AND GOD BLESS!

  65. Roy

    February 9, 2012 at 12:46 am

    No pity, I promise. Just sincere gratitude for your service and sadness that you suffer.

  66. Leslie

    February 9, 2012 at 12:50 am

    Thank you for sharing what so many cannot put into words!

  67. jessica

    February 9, 2012 at 1:01 am

    I too was diagnosed with PTSD but once I got out of the military I was told I wasn’t going to qualify for benefits… pretty sucky huh?

    • PTSD/MST

      February 9, 2012 at 10:57 pm

      Jessica… Go join a VFW / or get with the DAV and re-submit your claim (s)….. It may take 2 or 3 appeals… But I bet you will get your benefits! Another thing, start attending PTSD classes at your nearest VA hospital…
      If you have nothing to show that you are being Pro Active… Then chances are, they (whomever they is?) will continue to deny you what is due to you!!!

  68. Dave

    February 9, 2012 at 7:40 am

    Glad to know there is more than one

  69. heather

    February 9, 2012 at 8:43 am

    Thank you!!! If I have you permission, I would like to share with my families and our communities.

    • RU Rob

      February 9, 2012 at 11:22 am

      But of course!

  70. hoff

    February 9, 2012 at 9:02 am

    So true.

  71. Marie

    February 9, 2012 at 10:53 am

    You don’t know me and I don’t know you, but you and everyone that sacrificed their life, faced danger, missed out on family time, special occasions, spent sleepless nights, and the list goes on, for our freedom has my utmost respect. God Bless You Always.

  72. Scott P

    February 9, 2012 at 11:01 am

    Target…..

  73. Kevin

    February 9, 2012 at 12:11 pm

    The most important thing with PTSD is the realization of what is happening to you! At first everything is buried you are in denial trying to ignore the trauma trying to “Man Up”. Well that shit doesnt work! It has to come out and it will come out in your dreams along with the slow realization that you are fucked up and the more you try to suppress it the worse it gets. I went thru about 4 years of the nightmares after that just a numbness to everything around me. You will see things in circumstances that you are sure it is happening one way only to find out you are mistaken its like when I helped someone fill out a crossword puzzle, and this is more a parable, but I filled out every word almost and they matched but it turned out all my words were incorrect and other words actually fit a little better. This actually happened and it gave me insight that things can be deceiving. And that I can perceive things a little differently than others. This was just something that helped me along a little bit helped me to adjust a little. Same things with other people you might think they are acting one way toward you but chances are you are jumping to conclusions so give everyone else a break step back bite your tongue wait it out. It will be alright. When you are used to acting on adrenaline you need to give others the benefit of a doubt when you have PTSD. Another thing I learned and found helpful was in a Freddy Kruger movie. It was about dreamworld where Freddie gets you. Well the chick in the movie Learned to go into her dreams and become proactive ,to change the Dream instead of just experience it .She went into the dream world and learned to FIGHT Freddie . In fact she kicked his ass. To me it was as if Freddie the Boogie man was always in my dreams that was what I was afraid of. I learned to have the conscious will to interact into my dreams to take back control of them like in normal dreams That is how you conquer the night mares. Freddie in the movie represented all my night mares. The night mares are from the adrenaline you are running on 24 hours a day. I had a big dog sleep in my room gradually I realized when I woke up sitting up in bed covered in sweat trying to catch my breath that it wasnt someone sneaking up on me because they would have had to get by my protecter Big Dog Duke (R.I.P. buddy) and he was always laying there on the floor sleeping away peaceably. So I learned that it was just the adrenaline.
    Lastly I have heard the the VA just approved medical marijuana in the 17 states where it is legal for PTSD. I know that it will take the edge off things from personal experience it can help and compare that to whacking yourself it is a good thing to use compared to the bad that can happen with this disease. So share whats going on with somebody seek some help and you will get better . Things do get better it will always be with you to some extent but the night mares can be conquered you can learn to live with the adrenaline and remember to cut other people a break they all arent out to fuck with you , (although some are!) most arent and are good hearted they just cant really understand what you been thru. And the sooner you get help wit h this crap the easier it is. Wait too long and turns goes into chronic PTSD instead of acute . So if you or anyone you know get in someting traumatic talk to someone (therapist wise) about it as soon as possible before it sinks in and you try to cover it up (mentally ). Thats the one thing they have found out is that the longer you wait the worse it can get . And thanks , you guys, for your service by the way!

  74. Kanani Fong

    February 9, 2012 at 1:19 pm

    Shared on the WarRetreat.Org Facebook page! Thanks for such a moving account, and also for encouraging others to seek out help.
    It may come in the form of the VA, but then again, it might come as the result of concerned community members doing something right there where you live.
    Learn as much as you can about PTSD. Books by Peter Levine, research by Bessel van der Kolk, as well as organizations like There And Back Again, Connected Warriors, Warrior Life Coach and Yoga For Vets (and more) can help you understand the body’s response to traumatic memory, and finding relief.

  75. Tina

    February 9, 2012 at 2:05 pm

    Thanks for sharing your story. I just returned in January from a funeral for a dear friend’s husband, that suffered from PTSD as well. I know by talking with her and having some young men that suffer from it as well, helped me to understand it . His last words to his young wife, was that he just couldn’t do it anymore, he left behind a 1 yr old daughter. We as a people need to be educated more in this, and you guys coming back from this awful mess, need to be able to have available help that you need to help you through this, and be made aware ,where these places are for you. I will keep praying for all of you that you find peace and are able to fall asleep at night and be at peace once again. Thank for all you do

  76. Just Plain Jason

    February 9, 2012 at 3:20 pm

    I am currently at the Stress Disorder Clinic at the Topeka VA medical center. This is probably the best place to get inpatient treatment for PTSD. The Drs, nurses and staff know their shit and care about their jobs. I have came a long way in the short time I have been here, and I am a firm believer in the program. Stay strong, get help and take care of yourselves.

  77. SoldierMedic

    February 9, 2012 at 5:40 pm

    Controlling my anger has been the hardest part, losing jobs due to my anger that has helped me to manage day to day. Asking for help, getting none, until recently. Vet Centers today have awesome counseling, I have my life back now. And I’m very happy to pick up the pieces. Thank you to all those who work in vet centers. Thank you all for your service. I pay it forward as it was paid to me.

  78. Bryan

    February 9, 2012 at 6:29 pm

    Hey Rob, That Is Well written…I may not have “it” has bad as the others I have served with but there are times I question my sanity. I have turned to writing to let it out. the following is something I penned last summer and would like to share with you.

    Come forth and heed my words, my brothers. For morning’s light I shall dance with Death yet again…

    I have seen things that would shatter men’s souls…I have done things that have haunted me in my dreams…I have trekked across the scorching sands of the desert…I have survived the frozen Hell of winter in the wastelands…I have faced countless dangers and lived…

    I fear no man or beast, for I am pure of heart and a mountain of courage…I am scarred, I am wounded and yet I march on. Onward to the next test of combat I march, never faltering in my life’s journey…

    Will this be my last battle, races though my mind, as I sharpen my sword and axe. Once the battle is joined, I have but one thought…And cry out to my foe, I am CRUSHER…RIPPER… DESTROYER…LIFE TAKER and THE VICTORIOUS ONE!!!

    Then at the end of the day when I stand over the dead and dying, covered in their life’s blood, I shed tears of joy…Not for my victory, but for the eternal Peace that the Gods of War have granted them…

    For one day I shall join you in Valhalla, my brothers…when I finish my dance with Death and then eagerly await her icy embrace. Till that day comes, be at Peace and Rest easy, my brothers….

  79. Jessie

    February 9, 2012 at 7:43 pm

    I have forgotten what restful sleep feels like. Very rarely am I able to explain the reasons behind my little habits. Your declaration here totally hit home.. thank you.

    • RU Rob

      February 11, 2012 at 10:22 am

      Jessie: We are just quirky like that! ;-)

  80. Becky

    February 9, 2012 at 7:58 pm

    Thanks for putting that into words. I struggle daily with PTSD. I don’t sleep much or well, my head is on a swivel and I notice all the little details. I tense at car backfires and when passing abandoned cars and trash on the freeway. I despise fireworks and can often be found camped out in my closet during thunderstorms. I always have a bootknife on me at least (and it stresses me greatly that I am not allowed to at work). I am hypervigilant and suspicious, a constant studier of human behavior and environment.

    I was a medic attached to infantry, 2 tours plus Katrina, and a full civilian only since Nov 1. I started working with a head doc about a year and half ago and have come a long way, but since getting out I’ve had so many changes. Moved to a new state with a new climate, living in an apt alone (getting a roommate next week), starting a new job at the bottom of the totem pole after being used to being in charge… It hasn’t been easy. I miss my guys. My chalk was so close, did everything together, they were my family. Not long after starting here, 3 of those family members were KIA in Afghanistan. It almost did me in – I was ready to run to the recruiter’s office to demand a plan ride to the suck. Fortunately, a couple of the guys training me were vets and were a much needed support. I’m working as a paramedic in a big city. A good fit for me personality and skill wise, and I probably get along with these people better than most civilians (the job takes a special breed). But there’s still a disconnect, and I have a constant underlying fear that people will think I’m like the media portrays, a basketcase just waiting to lose it. There’s a stigma, especially in the public safety fields, that it’s weakness and I hesitate to let anyone know. I keep my experience to myself but still get awkward questions and expectations when coworkers find out I’m military. And then of course there’s the fear of what if I get that call that reminds me of…? I don’t know what all my triggers are, and there is so much I haven’t yet seen on the street. I always knew what I was capable of as a soldier, knew my boys had my back. Out here, everything feels different, and I’m afraid. What if I freeze up? What if I do something by instinct that’s wrong here? What if…?

    It’s not easy, but I’m making it. And talking to my buddies, people who have been there and have the same struggles, helps tremendously. Thanks for putting out there what I and so many of us are thinking.

  81. Janice

    February 9, 2012 at 9:00 pm

    Thank you for sharing. My husband is one of the many with a massive beast. Sad for us, he might have been a machine gunner but he can’t take what happened. He does struggle everyday and it’s very hard for him to get up and get on with daily activity. The best I can say is that he has never been a menace to society. He struggles very hard and I bet you that’s why he never sleeps and he never get off his couch. Again, thank you for sharing. It opened my eyes.

  82. Kim

    February 9, 2012 at 9:45 pm

    As an Army Mom of 3, 2 dealing with PTSD I appreciated this article very much. I have passed it on to many in hopes that it will bring knowledge to those who do not understand and peace to those who know they are not alone.
    Thank you

  83. RU Rob

    February 9, 2012 at 10:09 pm

    WOW! I want to thank each and every one of you for your comments. Please don’t think that I didn’t read your comment even if I didn’t leave you one in return. Trust me when I say I have read and re-read each and every single line that you have each written, often exposing your greatest fears and weaknesses to me. I thank you for that. I am truly amazed at the response I have received from you sharing this with your friends,family and with us here at Ranger Up.

    Check back with me often. This is the only place I write, it is my home and RU is my family. If this is your first time with us, check out the rest of our little slice of the internets. We have a slew of great writers and a couple of smart-asses as well (and we aren’t always serious)!

    -Rob

  84. Wild Bill

    February 10, 2012 at 2:44 am

    Just don’t make the mistake of telling the VA too much, you might get an under-educated over paid VA employee labeling you as ‘paranoid’ instead of ‘vigilent’. That car that really did follow your after 4 right turns really did follow you, you just happened to notice it whereas the paranoid person thinks everyone is following them.

    You might get labeled as ‘violent’ instead of sheep-dog because you exercise your right to bear arms. Every OEF/OIF veteran should be carrying, the world is not the fantasy land they show on disney TV, just watch the local news. Id rather a combat vet trigger puller come to my aid than a report writing police officer any day.

    Welcome home and good luck!! Im with ya all the way.

    You might have a good day, week, month and get labeled as ‘bi-polar’

  85. Wild Bill

    February 10, 2012 at 2:56 am

    Hey, look into Prazosin, it totally makes the nightmares less nightmareish.

  86. Mark

    February 10, 2012 at 7:34 am

    The link to this article was just passed to the entire KY National Guard by our G1! Well done, Rob.

    • RU Rob

      February 11, 2012 at 10:24 am

      Mark: Hopefully it will do someone in KY some good!

      Thanks for the update!!!

  87. April Spaniol

    February 10, 2012 at 8:59 am

    I am in awe at your courage to write this. And I thank you for it. I am tired, as well, of persons with PTSD being labeled as scary or dangerous. I do not have PTSD but I have anxiety which requires treatment sometimes since I had a brain tumor removed. While I would never compare my situation to someone who has been in war, I know how quickly ones life can change because of jacked up brain chemicals and I commend you for pushing on and also for taking a stand.
    While I may never know what it was like to be in that zone and can’t even imagine it, thank you for your service, your continued perseverance and for giving all persons with PTSD a voice. I hope more of them that are lost in it will read this and seek help.

  88. Debra Jacobs

    February 10, 2012 at 9:21 am

    The main reason I started writing my comment was to say,” THANKS TO ALL OF YOU WOMEN AND MEN THAT FIGHT FOR OUR RIGHTS, OUR FREEDOM, AND, IN THIS WORLD OUR SAFTEY”, YOUR NOT ACKNOWLEDGE FOR WHAT YOU DID OR DO AS YOU SHOULD BE. YOUR ALL HERO’S TO ME! YOUR OUR PROTECTORS AND THANKS FOR CARING ABOUT ME AND MY FAMILY IN ALL YOUR SACRIFICES. I RESPECT YOU ALL AND LOVE YOU ALL FOR BEING UNSELFISH AND SO BRAVE!!!!

    I even have had bouts with PTSD (Mild) from life events. I wish those that have their comments of negativity would learn they speak only from ignorance. I am not a soldier but, have many friends and co-workers who are. You have people who are placed on Medications and because one person was placed in the news for committing a heinous crime, while on that medication then it becomes taboo and those that take it do. I just want to add they don’t make a big deal over the bottle of whiskey that person drank that day along with the medication. Sure, the unknown to all more so for many can be scary but, it is how you handle your fears. Face your fears by learning and acknowledging them or continue to hide from your fears through words of ignorance. MY PRAYERS ARE WITH EACH OF YOU ALWAYS!!!!!!
    -Debra

  89. bob a

    February 10, 2012 at 9:38 am

    only those who have walked through the gates of hell and had the gates slammed shut behind them can ubderstand us.i was a draftee in 1967 and spent 12 months in viet nam. still today in 2012 i am under the effect of ptsd and will be till i die. no amount of therpy or counceling helps. thank god a few vets have have been able to move past the night mares and flashbacks. the nightmares and flashbacks still come and go but not as bad as they did the first 10 years after my return home from southeast asia. i still can’t sit in the middle of a room, i have to have a wall behind me. large crowds, forget it. i pray that god will save a spot in heaven for us suffering ptsd because we have spent our time in hell

  90. Elizabeth C

    February 10, 2012 at 4:40 pm

    Hi Rob and fellow readers,

    You will never be alone. It’s easy for people to overlook these issues, and many aren’t aware of them unless they have become victims. That is why we are making the film, “A Tale of Delight”. The film focuses on the struggle and solutions of PTSD, mental illness, and other issues, which in fact globally, over 450 million people suffer from mental illnesses. Our goal is to openly discuss, understand, and alert our audience of these issues and how to solve them. Without support, however, we are unable to tell this story. A simple 5, 10, or 25 dollars of your donation may save a life, maybe your life, or a friend’s life. Please take the time to explore more about the film, its cause, and hear what it means to the filmmakers themselves in the link (www.indiegogo.com/delightmovie. Upon completion, “A Tale of Delight” is FREE for online viewing to the public. But to be able to illustrate this story, we need your help. Please let me know if you have questions.

    And also, I’m curious to know what methods (besides medication) you use to help your PTSD? Do you exercise, write, talk, etc.? What is a “good” day for you?

    Thank you or your time.

    https://www.facebook.com/delightmovie

  91. Eve Burcar

    February 10, 2012 at 10:20 pm

    I was i OIF 1. Since then I have been struggling with inner demons with lose of sleep (would be up for 6 days straight and crash on the 7th day). The military tagged me right away with PTSD. I came back from war and got a job at a guard base. Since there was only a hand full of soldiers that have been to war (approx. 100 working full time soldiers on base)I felt alone. I didn’t get any help from our med. guy on base, in fact I had charged him with sexual harrassment and was told that it was taken care of but was told by my supervisor I still had to go to him if I had a health issue. During the 7 years that I was at that base, I have been through many different doctors and even more medication changes. I was also physically assaulted by a soldier I worked with on base. I was in the process of calling 911 to report a physical assault and was ordered by a MSgt to hang up the phone and not to call the police. I was yelled at all the time. My perfect record before the war was stomped on after I got back. I ended up losing my security clearence from computers and base privileges. The medical person also harrassed me again by getting the base police and first Ssgt involved by stating that I was staulking his wife. I was accused of this because they believe him and not me. Well, once the city police got involved, the harrassment stopped. The city police found out that it wasn’t me but the medical soldier was making it up. I have a letter written by the Superintendent to the base commander that stated all the symptoms associated with PTSD, but basically said I was nuts. I was given two choices: Either join the reserves until retirement (I had 16 years in and only 4 to retire to get 20), or take a severence pay. I was not offered a medical retirement. Since then I have been working with the local VA clinic and they have been really awsome. I applied for disability and have just been told that I have Chronic Severe PTSD. I am a single mother trying to cope wth this on my own for quite some time. I have lost my house to forclosure and I will be homeless by April 7, 2012. How do I tell my 16 year old daughter this? How do I tell her I failed?

  92. She who shall remain nameless

    February 10, 2012 at 11:01 pm

    Thank you so much for writing this article and clearly articulating what I think many of us don’t know how to. I have been diagnosed with PTSD (not through the VA) and intermittent explosive personality disorder (through the VA). I served in the Marines for quite some time and came home a very angry person. I often have bad dreams that are very vivid and wake up hating that I have them because I know Veterans (and others) who have had it far worse than I ever have. I feel as though nothing that traumatic happened to me, so why do I have these dreams and feel this way. I will say that I am lucky enough to where my anger towards people has greatly subsided since getting out, but occasionally it rears it’s ugly head.

    I would also like to mention that while I was in the Marines, we were getting de-briefed about going home on one of my last deployments and one of my fellow Sgt’s I knew blurted out “If you go see them, you’re a pussy.” Keep in mind this guy had hid his entire career and was crying to go back to a non-deployable unit. I think the way they are trying to reach veterans and current service members isn’t working and the stigma is still there, that you are weak for seeking help. I have no idea how to fix the problem but I hope someone comes up with a way soon, for everyones sake.

  93. Mike D

    February 12, 2012 at 3:09 am

    Rob, and everyone here Active, Reserve, Retired, country and/or community service thank you for the sacrifices previously made that brought you to where you are now and the sacrifices that you will continue to make on a daily basis as a result. 25 or so years ago it took me about 10 seconds of contemplation to realize that, despite two great uncles – one a POW – and a grandfather in WWII and an uncle in Korea, I wasn’t cut out for any kind of military service.

    Apparently, mine has a “different” cause to it. To be honest, to this day I don’t want to believe that I have this issue, this problem, this diagnosis. I know that SOMEthing is wrong, and I’m “broken”, I just haven’t been able to put my finger on it long enough to figure out how to “fix” it. But I’ve had two “professionals” tell me it’s what’s wrong with me so, unless I find a different answer, that’s what I go with for an explanation.

    It kills me whenever I read, see or hear something even remotely as clear and concise as what you’ve authored here, Rob. Because I can relate to many of the same feelings, emotions and “quirks” expressed by yourself and commenters. And, frankly, I feel guilty for having the diagnosis. PTSD is “for” those who have suffered real physical, mental, and/or emotional trauma. It’s not a great way to phrase the thought, and please understand that I mean absolutely NO disrespect in saying it like this, but those who have had such experiences “deserve” to be able to have their “brokenness” properly quantified and qualified in order to be able to seek the proper help if that makes any sense. How *I* ended up with this I’m not sure I’ll ever understand…

    I found that just talking made the most difference for me. Drugs made me feel like I was swimming through mud every day and, at one point, seemed to be making me more of a danger to myself as I couldn’t function properly. I know that they DO and HAVE helped many, it’s just a question of being able to find the right combination. I also know that I tend to ramble at times but I’ve learned that things are just going to keep flinging themselves at the back of my skull until/unless I let them out…

    For those of you who have developed PTSD in the course of serving your country and/or community, thank you, again, for your sacrifices and for allowing me to share some web space here. To those that have developed it as a result of other experiences, please hang in there. For everyone – deep breaths. And let at least ONE person you feel you can trust know what it is that you struggle with every day. It may feel like today gets the best of you sometimes. All we can do is get through it and see what tomorrow brings.

  94. Kathy Taylor

    February 13, 2012 at 2:26 pm

    IF you have time please send me an email. I would love to talk with you more. Put the subject PTSD so I will know its from you and not overlook it. God be with you.

  95. Amanda

    February 13, 2012 at 9:34 pm

    This is awesome. :) I like this a lot. It is nice to know that I’m not alone with this. Not that I would wish this upon anyone, it just helps.

  96. Chad

    February 15, 2012 at 9:07 am

    Man that was an amazing article. You helped me tonight just from me reading that. Thank you for standing up and posting something that so many can relate to and know that its ok, and for others that dont know to be educated. Once again I say thank you man.!

  97. Henry

    February 15, 2012 at 9:32 am

    Thanks for your service and putting PTSD up front. I have it myself and I am a survivor. Vietnam 68-69 and 71. Plus I was able to continue to serve my country in Iraq 03-04, 05, 06 and Afghanistan 04, 07 until I finally realized I was just too old for this and it is a young man’s thing. Retired from combat zones at 59. Dealing with so much these days. Thanks again.

  98. Paul

    February 15, 2012 at 11:07 am

    Very well said, Rob – thanks for sharing your words of inspiration. To one degree or another, most of us that have “been there” share many of the same symptoms and feelings, and I think your message will inspire a lot of people.

  99. Mat

    February 15, 2012 at 11:23 am

    “For those who are like me, there is help. Seek it out.” How about, For those who are not like me, there is knowledge. Seek it out.

  100. Point man

    February 15, 2012 at 2:00 pm

    Rob, you gave one of the best writings on PTSD they I have heard in awhile. When I returned home from the box I drank everynite, not just a little I would drink a 5th of Jim everynite, it was the only way I could sleep without waking every hour. I was a Grunt by choice, I’ve seen and felt what others only saw in “movies” I am the trigger puller. I was medevacked out my 3rd month in my tour. I recovered and was told to stay home by my commander. I returned to my unit anyway. It was my guys there, ( my BROTHERS) I felt I had abandoned them. Most of the other troops told me they would have never returned and would have stayed home. However for me it wasn’t even a choice, my family thought I was nuts and said I had a death wish. To keep this from being a “short book” a few close calls later, I returned home. After about a year of drinking and avoiding friends and family, I decided to get help from the VA. After trying numerous medications, we found a combo that worked for me. I too see more than the normal person, I notice things and people out of place. I always have a gun and a knife on me. I will never be a victim, nor will my family. After 10 years as a grunt and a med discharge. I became a police officer (6 yrs now) it was the closest thing I could do compared to my military skills. I love my job and only a few close friends know what I’ve been through. All I tell people is I served my country. I still have the dreams and the cold sweats in the middle of the night. After 8 years I guess they will b with me forever. Like you Rob, I deal with it and Charlie mike. To those reading this and think they might have PTSD, seek help, I thought by seeking help I was weak. That’s not the case!! I have lost alot by avoiding the problem(ie/ marriage). Always thank a VET and REMEMBER THE FALLEN. To the 8 brothers I
    Iost, you are not forgotten.
    Thanks Rob
    “POINT MAN”

  101. BlueSheepdog_WA

    February 15, 2012 at 5:50 pm

    Rob,

    First off, thank you for your service bro (from a Persian Gulf War vet) – you and all of the other vets coming home from all of the wars in the last 30 years (gotta show love to the guys and gals from ‘Nam!) your service and sacrifice means everything to this country. All of you have my respect, admiration and love for everything you have done.

    Those of us who have PTSD should not be ashamed of it and should not be afraid to get help for it. Despite what the media depicts, the vast majority of veterans are good, decent people who just want to enjoy the freedoms they have earned and live their lives in quiet dignity. None of us have anything to prove or defend to those who have neither the courage and willingness to stand in harm’s way nor the desire to support those of us who do. What we suffer from is no different than any other medical condition, and with the proper treatment and peer support (as Rob and so many others have pointed out) you don’t even know there is anything different about us.

    And we are different. We were born different, given a special gift from God to be the warriors our families and communities need. We stepped up when the call came and put our lives on the line for our country instead of running and hiding. Many of us still serve even today as cops, firefighters, or just good old fashioned Sheepdogs. We run towards danger when everyone else is trying to get out of its way. When something needs doing, we are the first ones to pitch in and get it done, and most of us only want the simple “thank you” that goes along with a job well done. We are husbands and wives, fathers and mothers, brothers sisters, sons daughters, best friends, next door neighbors and a lot of other people you meet every day. What we are NOT is paranoid, delusional whackjobs prowling the streets with a gun looking for an excuse to go off the rails and hurt people. That is a filthy lie put forth by the media, who incidentally is populated by a lot of those same people who neither stepped up when their country needed them, or support those who did and still do.

    We have nothing to be ashamed of and we have every right to be proud of who we are and what we have done for this country. We are veterans. We have PTSD. And we are OK.

    God bless and be safe everyone!

  102. George

    February 15, 2012 at 7:58 pm

    Great article. I can relate.

  103. Jason

    February 15, 2012 at 9:50 pm

    You tell it how it truly is for those of us who are members of society. Read this to my wife and she agrees wholeheartedly. I made me feel good to know that there are other out there that feel as normal as we can to be a productive member of society. Again, thank you.

    Often Tested, Always Faithful, Brothers forever

  104. Jason F

    February 15, 2012 at 11:29 pm

    Hi,

    Thanks for this article, i was diagnosed last month with PTSD, even though i have been out the loop since 2008. At first i felt like crap, like i was weak. but i told a few close buddies, who said they have it too, and that it goes with the territory.

    i feel not so bad about it now, but this is because i’m not facing it alone. talk to your mates, it makes a big difference.

    Salute.

  105. chip's dad

    February 16, 2012 at 10:05 am

    thank you for sharing this . we lost our usmc son becasue of this – we were blind to the symptoms. hopefully others have the ability to recognize it , and help as needed.

  106. Bravo6Lima

    February 20, 2012 at 11:57 am

    Out-effing-standing!!!

  107. Cpl Hunter

    February 23, 2012 at 1:43 am

    This is one of the best written articles on the subject that I’ve ever read. For all of my Military brothers out there reading this, I’m replying to this message from Afghanistan on a computer one of our EOD techs let me use. After my first deployment to this particular area of Afghanistan, I had more nightmares and nervous breakdowns than any 21 year old should have in a lifetime. To this day, I lose sleep staring at the ceiling thinking about what I could have done different in certain situations and wishing that things would have turned out differently. I still haven’t been able to bring myself to seek professional help. To be honest, the stigma that society puts on people suffering from PTSD makes me want to keep my mouth shut and deal with these problems by myself. No matter how hard it gets though, It’s good to know that I’m not alone in this. Thank you Rob for writing this well thought out piece, and thank you to everyone else for supporting each other, and thus, supporting me.

    Hunter
    3/7 Kilo 3

    • VectorRector

      May 10, 2012 at 1:01 pm

      You’re not alone, Cpl. Hunter. Even though it may not get airtime, many Americans support PTSD sufferers, but don’t know how to reach out. What you and so many other soldiers did to keep America safe made a difference. You matter and we care. Thank you for your service, and for the sacrifices that you made and are still making. Honor to you, Sir.

      Gratefully Yours,
      Leilani Rector

  108. Jelus Dreams

    March 4, 2012 at 6:50 pm

    In reading the article and following the comments? It is apparent that the media has become the fragile position that is going to be dealt with in their own way just as the political arena will be. I just hope that when the fighting starts here in our own Country that I have the ability to be on the side of the fence where our PSTD people stand. I trust my life to someone who lives with the problems and deals with them, helping others try to deal with it far easier than I trust being in the media or political arena areas where those people will come to understand just what a horrible showdown can do to a person. Half a century has gone by in my life and it amazes me what has gone by as progress. It would be a wonderful place to take all the technoligical BS out of the equation and live without the television. Go back to the radio, people traveling by foot, bus, shared rides. Eh, Melancholy for the good ol days when we were in a better place and didn’t have the stuff inside our heads and the groups outside our doors that control so much of too many people’s lives. Keep working on yourselves because in the end? You are the only ones that will help each other and give people like me a chance to survive the fallout that really will hit before I die I can almost foresee that as the end of my future. I am not afraid, but I do fear for our children’s children. They will see the cause and effect of it all.

  109. Joan holland

    April 5, 2012 at 5:46 pm

    Thank you for this, I’m not a soldier and my only ties to the military is that my husband is a retired marine. I have PTSD and I like you suffer from nightmares. I also have flashbacks, a constant vigilance, a fear of everything and everyone. Yet I manage a life with a son who has autism. Thank you for voicing an understanding about what happens to me on a daily basis. It’s nice to know I’m not alone even though it feels that way a lot. I sympathize with your annoyance about the misconception of PTSD every time I go to the doctors and they can’t explain what’s going on with me they chalk it up to it must be the PTSD even if im no where near panicking and they keep trying to jam meds. Down my throat

  110. James

    April 6, 2012 at 8:49 am

    Thanks for putting all that in words. I was in Iraq 03-04 and no one really knew how to handle me when I got back. I fell into a bottle for about a year and a half, my wife and son suffered for it, I never got violent or anything but they had to see me that way. I met a retired Army SMG in a bar in Germany where I was working and he saw me in the back of the place drowning myself and he came up took away my drink and we talked about our times and troubles. That was the first night after being home I remember walking home and getting into bed next to my wife, I still drink but I quit after the first to prove to myself that I am still normal and I am still capable of leading a normal life. Thank you Sergeant Major, You saved my life.

  111. Warren

    April 25, 2012 at 12:22 pm

    Amen—
    I myself wake up every morning between 0330 and 0400, I am one of the lucky ones that do not remember my dreams. My wife says that almost every night, I am either fighting with someone or yelling at someone, sometimes getting very violent in my sleep. I wake up in a sweat. I have been diagnosed with “severe PTSD”, and am working with the VA to help me through it.

  112. Jon

    April 28, 2012 at 12:07 am

    I too have PTSD. I take my meds in the morning(Celexa,Xanax) and take my Trazadone before bed. I have blackouts when I get really angry, and I dont like who I am sometimes. I continue to stay on active duty until I can get into an inpatient program, and then go to a medboard. What kills me the most is that I would deploy again in a heartbeat, but I would come back more of a monster than I can be now. I see the strain it puts on my wife and kids, and that breaks my heart. I am not some madman, like the media likes to paint us. I am someone who kitted up and went and did the job. I have gone from Soldier to seasoned Soldier, but my focus,albeit selfishly is getting the treatment I need and being a dad to my girls. I will always love this Country,I will always fly an American flag outside of our house and I will always have to deal with this in whatever form it comes in.

  113. Celeste

    May 10, 2012 at 1:56 pm

    I really enjoyed this article. Very well written! As a former Navy daughter, Army wife and now Army mom (of 2 Army Sgt’s, one is a Ranger), I believe that everyone that lives every day in a war zone has PTSD issues to deal with. Who could possibly overcome such horror without it being an issue to deal with. Of course most cases are handled without a Dr or therapist. Those that have deeper issues should be able to get the help they need without the ugly labels. A person that has PTSD due to a crime in the civilian world is considered a victim and handled carefully, why should it be different for our warriors that made this sacrifice for our protection? In my old age I’ve returned to college (after 21 yrs) so that I can help military and their families suffering from PTSD. Yes, the families also suffer. Both of my sons were in Afgh. for the same year and I can assure you that it’s very traumatic for the family at home. I’m also studying to counsel addicts. Legal addiction has become a pandemic and it’s an obstacle that our warriors are facing and being introduced to AFTER they return home. Addiction is no way to treat those very brave and selfless individuals that risked everything to give us freedom.I copied this article for 2 of my professors and for the campus veteran’s group. I sure hope that it helps at least one person rid themselve of the horrible stereotypes…Hello, Dr. Phil???

  114. Carrie O

    May 10, 2012 at 1:56 pm

    I am a military wife who’s husband has PTSD, thank you for showing the world that just because someone has it doesn’t mean they can’t be a normal human being. I was married once before to another solider who also had PTSD but he used it as an excuse to get away with things like, cheating, mentally and physically abusing myself and two children, which his father said it was ok for him to do because of his PTSD, but it wasn’t. My dad is a Vietnam vet who has PTSD and he never once let it control his life! Thank you for standing up for all soldiers who have PSTD, its about damn time someone stood up to the media to prove not everyone goes off the deep end! You are an amazing person for doing this Rob, and I can’t thank you enough!

  115. Lincoln

    May 10, 2012 at 4:13 pm

    First, let me say thanks to ALL the Vets out there! I too have suffered from PTSD and have since Nov 94. I don’t have it as bad as many do, and not as bad as it used to be. Maybe i’m adjusting, I don’t know. I still have nightmares every night. I always carry a piece with me when I leave home. Hell, even if i’m not carrying inside my house there is one somewhere close by. I believe that God put us here for a reason, and I too will watch my flock.

  116. Ben

    May 10, 2012 at 8:40 pm

    Well done. Something I did for NPR which your piece shared alot in common with…
    http://www.npr.org/2011/06/02/136503834/returned-combat-veteran-anxiety-trumps-logic

  117. Jennifer

    May 11, 2012 at 12:37 am

    Wow, I want to speak on behalf of those of us who are proud, gratefully admire and love our men and women who have served our country.
    I am so in love with my family, my friends and the men and women who SELFLESSLY sacrifice EVERYTHING for us… our country. My prayers always include you. I don’t know and will never know a fraction of the nightmares you’ve physically survived and endure. What mentally you are haunted by and not know the toll PTSD has on your hearts, minds and souls. What you experience at night or have to shake off every morning and do to get through the day.

    I do know this, who ever out there tries to judge, label, shun, or look down would cower and wouldn’t have the strength or courage to make it through a day in combat. These “judgers” are weak, cowards, and they dont care to try to understand because they are too afraid of their own shadows. Which more than likely shames them. They are more concerned with their bank accounts and clothing than the well being of others. That is not the world God created. That is the part of the world the enemy got a hold of. All we can do is pray for their changed hearts and speak up. These “judgers” are selfish, rude and should be the ones who can’t sleep at night. If I were like them (Thank GOD I’m not) but if i were I know I wouldn’t be able to have peace with in myself or be able to face my own reflection.

    Now, For those of us who do lift you up, respect you, are grateful for you and love you… we want you to know we’ve got your backs. WE will always be here to go to war with people like them for our brave soldiers ANY morning, day and night. It’s the very least we can do to serve our country, especially serve you.

    The article said, there are more good than bad in the military. I’d like to think and I’m hopeful there are more good than bad people on this side of the fence that will forever take a stand.

    It’s not knowing that makes some ignorant. It’s not wanting to know that makes some just plain stupid.

    You are amazing don’t EVER let anyone convince you other wise.
    My prayers are forever with you and your families.
    Thank you for sharing.
    ♥ God bless!

  118. Wendy

    May 11, 2012 at 9:15 pm

    First, I’d like to Thank you for your service (along with everyone else who has posted here and at RU). Second, Thank you for the honest article on PTSD. As an active member of the American Legion Auxiliary, I know many veterans that have PTSD, none of them are ‘monsters’ or violent. They are exactly as you describe. Hopefully more of these so called experts will stop with the negativity and begin telling the truth as more people diagnosed with PTSD speak out as you have done.

    I know it takes a lot of courage to speak out about this topic, and you have done it with tact, honesty and ‘in your face’ courage.

    You will definitely be in our prayers! And I will be sharing your story with others to encourage them as well. Thank you again!

  119. Jon Ritz

    May 12, 2012 at 3:47 pm

    In a town of about 6000, Lebanon, CT…an Iraq/Afghan Vet aged 26 yrs old is charged with shooting his girlfriend in the chest 3 nights ago. Word is that he has a PTSD diagnosis. Maybe the drugs aren’t the answer, and neither is self-medicating?

    • SPC Leonard

      April 2, 2013 at 10:05 am

      I would say that you have not been sufficiently informed, and/or did not actually read the article. I have PTSD, but it’s a great deal milder than what some of my friends have. I have a permanent tremor in my right hand; and do not take very well to loud sounds, crowded places, or being surprised.

      I had to talk to someone and seek help, or I would have lost control and harmed someone. Remember, there is a huge cultural stigma to seeking out mental help. I would guess that he had not gotten the help he needed, whether therapy, medication, a support group, or just calling a friend to help talk him down.

      For me, talking with someone who has demons like mine has helped me the most. For others, that’s just not enough. A good friend of mine, a combat engineer with three years spent doing route clearance in Iraq, needs medication to make it through each day. Just talking about it isn’t enough for him. He needs that medication to balance him out or he will lay hands on someone because of the emotional trauma he has endured. It’s that simple.

  120. alex

    May 15, 2012 at 2:05 am

    Amen to the gospel.

  121. Zach

    May 16, 2012 at 12:01 am

    Could you guys possibly add a “share” link with social media outlets and email ability? I would love to share this with the guys I served with as well as all the men and women I have met through the Wounded Warrior Project and Ride 2 Recovery. Thanks for sharing. You are not alone!

  122. Daniel Haszard

    June 5, 2012 at 4:48 pm

    PTSD treatment for Veterans found ineffective.

    Eli Lilly made $65 billion on the Zyprexa franchise.Lilly was fined $1.4 billion for Zyprexa fraud!
    The atypical antipsychotics (Zyprexa,Risperdal,Seroquel) are like a ‘synthetic’ Thorazine,only they cost ten times more than the old fashioned typical antipsychotics.
    These newer generation drugs still pack their list of side effects like diabetes for the user.All these drugs work as so called ‘major tranquilizers’.This can be a contradiction with PTSD suffers as we are hyper vigilant and feel uncomfortable with a drug that puts you to sleep and makes you sluggish.
    That’s why drugs like Zyprexa don’t work for PTSD survivors like myself.
    -Daniel Haszard FMI Google-Haszard Zyprexa

  123. Ex-PH2

    June 17, 2012 at 4:48 pm

    It is not just combat that creates the ‘fight or flight’ reaction and hyper-alertness. Women who have been raped experience the same thing, as do adults who were molested and raped by pedophiles as children.

    I don’t think that drugs are the solution to the problem in the long-term.

    Sometimes the best solution is to face what terrifies you and talk about it with other people. Fear generates anger. When someone carries the burden of fear, without facing it as you are doing, it doesn’t lessen the fear.

    Aren’t there still drop-in centers that you can go to, like there were in the 1990s?

  124. Sandi

    August 15, 2012 at 9:56 pm

    Great article! For those with PTSD that want to reach out for help. K9s For Warriors provides and trains service dogs for our warriors suffering from PTSD. We are a non profit and do not charge for our services. As a bonus 95%of our canines come from rescue shelters. We rescue the dogs, train them and they rescue our heroes.

  125. Greg H

    August 27, 2012 at 10:27 am

    Thanks for these words. I have been living this for 23 years and it is nice to finally see it put so eloquently.

  126. Mike R.

    August 27, 2012 at 9:46 pm

    thanks for this truth, I am living this with you.

    Tropic Lighting.

  127. Charlotte

    September 4, 2012 at 9:00 pm

    I love and adore our veterans, I truly do, my brother did 3 tours, but I am also tired of hearing my PTSD as a civilian isn’t the same as their PTSD. We often get mocked or laughed at by veterans, trust me, none of us are wannabes. Regardless of what trauma an individual experienced to have PTSD the emotions and issues are all the same. I wish veterans could understand and appreciate that. Pain, fear, anger, grief, depression, loneliness, constantly being on guard, the nightmares, relationship strains, we all have the symptoms. And most seem to think that because a female has PTSD it is due to rape, not so. For some of us we have had it for a very long time and have learned to cope and deal, we want to reach out and offer hope that it will get better, not be smacked down because war PTSD is different from civilian PTSD.

    Veterans don’t own the monopoly on PTSD. Too many have complained to me that no one cares and it isn’t so, plenty of people care and want to do whatever needs to be done to help in whatever way the veteran wants or needs, but it is up to the veteran to be willing to open up. Some of the people that have helped me the most are people that I would have never turned to, or they were brief encounters and I found by being willing to be open that person did more for me than years of therapy. Give us a chance to be there for you. Don’t judge us because we are civilians and could never possibly understand. We get it, we really do, have some faith and know that you are loved and appreciated. We want you to heal and move forward and not be stuck in the clutches of PTSD.

  128. Skip Nelson

    September 17, 2012 at 1:51 pm

    I am a Veteran of Vietnam…1967-68. I also suffer from PTSD…although, in the past 20 years…I have learned to live with it. My technique is I visualize it in a box and I put in on the shelf. Every once in awhile….I take it down and look at it. It is not something you can be “cured of”. It is not something you can “put behind you”.

    The moment I learned to live with is was the moment my great counselor Stu, now deceased, told me the following…….

    “You cannot forget it. You cannot let it go. You have to respect it. You have to own it. It is part of your life. You have every right to have those feelings. You have every right to be angry. But…..you do not have the right to make others suffer for it.”

    Hang in there my brothers and sisters!!!! You are not alone.

    • Tess

      September 17, 2012 at 3:38 pm

      Such wise words, Skip! It is as Buddha said: first there is a mountain, then there is no mountain, then there is a mountain.

  129. Ann Marie

    September 17, 2012 at 2:26 pm

    We all have limitations. I live with depression. So, like you, I take my medicine and function. End of story.

  130. Stan

    September 17, 2012 at 2:32 pm

    Thanks Rob for an excellent piece. I too have PTSD from SE Asia, but it really came to a head when Bush 41 invaded Iraq. My wife & I were watching CNN while eating supper and the bombing of Baghdad began. The visuals were so similar to those from when I participated in the rescue of the USS Mayaguez in Cambodia it just all came screaming back into my consciousness.

    I’ve been in therapy ever since and on meds for about 5 years. I’ve also lost two jobs, one in academia and one in the private sector, due to my inability/refusal to put up with BS. The last one I lost was when my supervisor verbally assaulted me and I made it perfectly clear I would not tolerate his behavior. He’s lucky I did not get physical.

    So I’m interviewing and have a line on a new job that I hope will work for me. The climate & culture of the organization appears to be favorable for my personality and its all of a 5 minute commute. :) Hope I can finish out my working portion of my there and be able to retire with no debts.

    BTW, for any and all vets who read this. If you have not done so, go register with the VA and get evaluated. If I had not done so I do not know how we would have gotten through my unemployment as the VA disability check made all the difference in the world. You should also join the DAV as they were an immense help to me in obtaining my VA disability pay. It’s a great organization.

  131. Susan

    September 17, 2012 at 3:01 pm

    eloquent commentary….for those of us that don’t have a war to identify with but suffered violence at the hands of parents or spouses PTSD can be equally lonely. It is a silent, humbling equalizer that often brings the most competent and brave to their knees. Finding others that speak the same language and understand the quirks, hyper-vigilance and mistrust helps….thanks for putting this out there.

  132. Roger Baker

    September 17, 2012 at 3:15 pm

    I just want to say thank you.

  133. Kristin Closue

    September 17, 2012 at 3:19 pm

    Rob, this essay is one of those priceless, powerfully passionate pieces of writing that have the power to change lives AND perceptions. Listen–I have PTSD, too, but not because of military service. I’m the granddaughter of one of Merrill’s Marauders–an historic Army Ranger unit serving during WWII–and the daughter of a West-Point-educated Army officer who served in Vietnam, yet I have PTSD not because I followed their legacy into the battlefield, but because I suffered and survived a vicious rape. However, no matter what trauma brings this disorder into our lives, it is, sadly and unfairly, stigmatizing. I’ve seen people distance themselves from me when I confide that the hyper-vigilance, nightmares, and mood shifts aren’t simply personality quirks but manifestations of PTSD. THANK YOU for giving voice to a disorder that is, sadly, often stereotyped and misunderstood.

  134. Tess

    September 17, 2012 at 3:34 pm

    I would like to echo Susan’s sentiment. I have had PTSD symptoms since elementary school and was officially diagnosed in college. Cognitive behavioral therapy has helped immensely. I have never served in the military but have witnessed more than my share of battles. We all thank you for being brave and saying what we wish we could. And to all military personnel, thank you for your service!

  135. Amanda

    September 17, 2012 at 3:49 pm

    As the wife of a former serviceman who suffers from this, the stigma on it is so great that it seems that too many people are afraid to ask for help but instead, suffer silently not realizing the toll that it take son them, their families, and their friends. Both my husband and I grew up in military families where our fathers were high ranking NCOs and in my husband’s case, he also played football and participated in other “manly” activities where he had basically been taught that therapy and medications made you weak. It took 9 months after his initial diagnosis to even say the words “I have PTSD” out loud and to being a medicinal treatment for the depression that it had caused. It took losing a job, losing friends, and losing family before he realized that he needed help. Sadly though, even with help he still cannot admit to his father that he suffers from this because he knows how he will see this as a “weakness” and consequently see my husband as less of a man. As a society we need to educate people that this is NOT the case. Thank you for writing this and for sharing your experiences with the world-hopefully more men and women will see this and realize that they are not alone and do not need to be embarrassed, instead be proud that they have served their country and all of us at home.

  136. Tom Rainey

    September 17, 2012 at 3:52 pm

    The only problem I have with the PTSD discussion is that a lot of people, like me, are left out. I spent 13 years as a US Coast Guard Rescue Swimmer. For 13 years I pulled the dead bodies of men, women and children, in varying degrees of completeness out of the water. I loaded up 6 dead boaters, burned beyond recognition stacked like cord wood in the helo and puked the whole ride back to the air station. I jumped in the north pacific in February because I thought I saw a teenage victim waving at us. It was a shark taking off his arm. A USCG helicopter mid-aired a civilian helo just off the USCG ramp. As part of the initial “rescue” I found the co-pilot’s helmet, head still inside, wearing the sunglasses I issued him an hour earlier.

    The VA has tried to help me and has me medicated to the point I’m okay but very vulnerable. I am not eligible for the primary programs because I am not a combat vet. I didn’t do or experience what combat vets did but I am having a hard time. Had 6 jobs in 6 years, getting fired or leaving just as about to be fired.

    There are a lot of folks like me. Who feel left out and ignored. But I strongly encourage all of you to get whatever help is available. I would not be alive today without the help I got. Not to mention in the same job for 3+ years. Best I’ve done since retiring in 1997.

    • Todd

      September 22, 2012 at 2:55 am

      Tom – I can sympathize. I was a paramedic as long as you were a Rescue Swimmer. (Actually, I debated joining the Coast Guard to be a Rescue Swimmer until I realized and accepted the fact that I swim like a Sunday paper – I went to paramedic school instead). Of course we have PTSD. We witnessed and experienced horrific things. Our lives were not in jeopardy to the same degree as a combat vet, although you were certainly in a great deal of danger many times, but we were in the middle of a different kind of fight.

      Tom, you are not alone, my friend. I wish you inner peace and future success as you continue your fight.

  137. Barrett

    September 17, 2012 at 3:53 pm

    Thank you for taking the time to put your thoughts into words. I’m an Army Vet of OIF III (Baghdad) and have similar challenges. Your eloquent and heartfelt commentary does us all service. Fortunately, I have an incredible wife, family, and friends who have been extremely supportive and helped me through the worst of it. I wish you and all others out there the best of luck. Thanks for your service and sacrifice.

    • resonant1

      September 17, 2012 at 4:35 pm

      I am not military, but I have PTSD. I was ritually abused and tortured for 9 years as a child. I survived. I still wage war in my head, but I am one of the good guys. Like most of you, I get pissed off as hell when the media stigmatizes those of us who have it. I have had PTSD for 32 years and I work hard every day to get just a little better.

      I can relate to Rob in the sense that I see everything going on around me, and I am ready to intervene at all times. I see the questionable characters in every crowd, I am always watching.

      Just like you I return to the battle at night, when the terrors come, and in the morning I put on my pants one leg at a time and face another day. Thanks to all our troops for your sacrifice, and to my brothers and sisters with PTSD: may God sustain you. You are having a very normal reaction to extreme circumstances. This is a sign of sanity, not an indicator of weakness.

  138. Doug P

    September 17, 2012 at 4:28 pm

    Thank you for being a voice for all of us! Very well said! You said it better than I could have. I have many more restful nights now than before, (time and talking it out really do help) but there’s still the hypervigilance, the NEED to know where the exits are, and to see the room, seeing the guys in the crowd that don’t quite fit, fireworks that give me anxiety, the guns, the knives, the ever present “jam bag”, like most of us, the list goes on, and I bet it’s all very similar. But… nobody knows, and they never will. I’m past feeling like something’s wrong with me because I see things differently. Like you, I embrace the experiences that make me who I am, and look forward to the future with the anticipation of good things to come. There are still triggers, and I expect there always will be, such is life. Thanks again for being a voice for us. Outstanding job!

  139. Larra

    September 17, 2012 at 5:00 pm

    As the daughter, granddaughter, and niece of current and former military members, I certainly appreciate it.

    People have to recognize that PTSD comes with widely varied symptoms from my grandfather who has to be woken by poking him with a broom handle lest he startle and break your arm, to my roommate who suffered sexual violence in her teens and is fine unless someone grabs her wrists.

    Understanding, compassion, and not sticking people in boxes are imperative.

  140. CMayne

    September 17, 2012 at 5:15 pm

    First off bless all of you who served. I grew up in the Marines (the old man was a DS) but I was never in the military. I have had PTSD for about 16 years. No it is not just military! Going through a BAD Divorce I lost my Dad, a grandson and 20 days later watched my 20 year old son take his own life. Yes, I have PTSD. Through all that time I have maintained my job, my friends and a reasonable portion of my sanity. The nightmares still come sometimes and I sweat through a thousand different ways to tell the boy to put the gun down, all with the same results. So, yes I DO understand where you men have been and where you are now. My only wish is that life treat you as kindly as it may!

  141. KGD

    September 17, 2012 at 5:39 pm

    Awesome post, I do as you. I cause no harm, although my second wife left for a “normal” man.
    I left some buddies, God, Country, childhood and my soul in that jungle a long time ago, the nights still belong to “Charlie”.
    Hang in brother.

  142. Diane T.

    September 17, 2012 at 6:04 pm

    My husband was Koren War(action) Vet and after 7 years of marriage would wake up with nightmares. He did not often know who I was for a few minutes and would drink to drown these awful feelings.

    WISH I knew then HOW to be the wife he needed me to be.
    May God help the spouses to understand HOW to be what our Veterens need them to be at this difficult time. Thank You for your post.

  143. Mark Barto

    September 17, 2012 at 6:24 pm

    This essay hits a chord. I also suffer daily. Never at ease, always on guard sums it up. I wish I could feel as rested as my colleagues but I have accepted the fact that this will never happen. The only places I have found that I truly fit in are with my military buddies and the guys at my firehouse. Thank you for breaching millions with your message. Your paintbrush is vast and true!

  144. Eric

    September 17, 2012 at 6:26 pm

    I am a VietNam vet. This cumbahyah shit makes me even more crazy. I have been to more than my share of these vet therapy groups.They are full of liars and wannabe heroes, just wanting to tell their pornagraphic horror stories for their own amusement and the tittlation of their so-called leaders and therapists. It is so easy to trip them up. Just ask them a few questions about their service time, their unit and their jobs. The therapists wait with bated breath in anticippaion of a revalation about which they have no clue, and can’t wait to share with their colleagues. When I came home I was spat upon and called baby killer. I am stil waiting for my welcome home banner and my short letter list. Too late. I see the light now. It just ain’t gonna happen.

  145. Chad-S

    September 17, 2012 at 6:51 pm

    I pray for you people who suffer from mental health issues. I was wondering about marijuana and PTSD. I have been a pot smoker for 20 years and the few times I decided to quit, I quickly noticed that I never have dreams anymore. After a few days, my dreams started to come back with a vengence. I would go as far as to say that some of them could be considered night terrors – waking up drenched with sweat and scared out of my mind. I wonder if ppl who suffer from PTSD could use marijuana at night to releive them of the nightmares? Just a thought.

    • E.P.

      September 18, 2012 at 9:20 pm

      I can say as a veteran who is 100% service connected for ptsd that I take marijuana on a daily basis and it helps enormously. I only wish they would stop this stupid prohibition and legalize it already. In Israel, they are doing remarkable work with their veterans with ptsd taking marijuana, so it is documented already that it does help.

  146. scott

    September 17, 2012 at 7:28 pm

    I suffer from ptsd, though i have never served in the military. I am curious if anyone is familiar with any route beyond the western medicine and chemicals that i can no longer afford. I put myself through the withdrawals and now i can hardly function daily, due to lack of rest.

  147. Mike

    September 17, 2012 at 7:42 pm

    Thanks for posting this brother. I too had to meet my demons head on. I took plenty of crap from field grade’s and other senior NCO’s (my peers) for it, but I continue to tell Soldiers its OK to seek help and to tell my story to them. The more we bring this out in the open instead of hiding it, the more lives we can save. Leaders: demonstrate true moral courage and admit you have a problem and seek help. It took me a lot to finally say enough is enough and seek help. A few short months later and I got my life back. Two years since I am a better leader for it, and I can continue to do the job I love. Too all those suffering in silence, stop! Go get some help. You owe it to the Soldiers you lead, your loved ones, and yourself.

  148. Timothy McCarthy

    September 17, 2012 at 7:51 pm

    Many decades ago I returned from a posting in Vietnam. When I returned I realized that I was…different. I did all possible actions to fit in with regular society.
    My most dramatic episode happened at 3 AM while sleeping for the next day’s work. A car backfired outside my house and I was immediately in
    “Vietnam Mode”.
    I came out of bed and hit the floor! A few minutes later I got up and looked out the window and realized it wasn’t a Viet Cong bomb but a car that backfired. Since that time I have lived with my differences that have slowly allowed me to have control of my life.
    My sympathy is with the many military that suffer the same form of mental torture!

  149. George_K

    September 17, 2012 at 7:53 pm

    We’re not so different, you and I, but are seperated by a couple of generations. I earned my PTSD in 1968-69 in RVN, my dad earned his in Germany in WWII (Europe), and I’ll bet George Washington earned his somewhere near New York. It won’t exactly get better, but it can be managed with the proper mind-set, and it will seem like it is better. I pray for our families, especially the one’s that decide to see it through with us, through thick and thin. Never give up!!

  150. Dani

    September 17, 2012 at 8:19 pm

    I am a civilian who deeply respects our military service people and all they go/have gone thru. I also have PTSD from a childhood incident. I get the same stupid questions and silly looks when it comes up. Even Health professionals!!! LOL

    I am glad your article is drawing attention to the issue. I was hoping the media attention would launch further research and public acceptance!! LOL

    Thanks for trying man!

  151. v-28

    September 17, 2012 at 8:20 pm

    Been living with that stereotype for 40 years since my deros…Has gotten better as time has gone by but never goes away. You make me proud! well said, thank you!

  152. AlexG

    September 17, 2012 at 8:20 pm

    Thank you for sharing, I continue to struggle with this daily as well. It is life changing for sure and most of what you wrote rings true to me in my life. Take Care and God Bless! Alex

  153. Becky

    September 17, 2012 at 8:42 pm

    Thank you Rob, for putting rational thought and voice to the demons that haunt so many of our veterans and current service members. I’ve lived with the “ghost” of my husband for nearly ten years since an IED blast in Ramadi in ’03. He was different when he returned. As time went on the emotional detachment, isolation, irrational outbursts, paranoia, sleep deprivation, nightmares, and countless other symptoms associated with this disorder became his way of life. He soldiered on, like so many others, just trying to keep up the facade, afraid of the stigma that would end the career he’d worked so hard to build. Denial is the worst possible plan of action. I want to encourage every veteran and those still serving. Seek help now. Do not wait until the disorder defines who you are. As military spouses, we know when we “join” that there will be long absences, that we will have to be strong and hold down the fort when you’re away. We know that there’s grave danger and pray for your safety everyday. We look forward to the day that you come home and we can make up for all the time we’ve missed. Unfortunately, there was no disclaimer on the contract that warned us of the possibility that when you came home, you would bring someone else with you – a stranger in our home, that is sometimes frightening, sometimes so frightened that it is heart-wrenching. We waited for our heroes to come home to us. If any of you are experiencing any of these symptoms, for the love of your family and the country that you fought so bravely for, for the one who waited for the day that you would be by their side again, fight on soldiers and get help fighting those demons. Stand tall and proud that you’ve done a good job but admit you need help facing those demons, reach out. There are so many resources available to help you. You’ve given enough. It has been so difficult to stand by helpless and watch this happen to my own and so many others. Talk to your battle buddy. Talk to your command. Talk to your doctor. Admitting that something is wrong, is the most courageous thing that you can do. You are and will forever be a hero. Fight on brave soldiers. There is hope.

    • Paul

      September 18, 2012 at 12:47 am

      Here are a few things that helped me. Hyperbaric oxygen, 30 treatments or so helped. There are places with lower cost. It helps injured parts of the brain regenerate. Prozac in low dose for the same purpose. Many physicians aren’t aware that Prozac helps stimulate nerve cell regeneration. It’s fine to go on a dose below the normally considered therapeautic threshold for years – does no harm.

      I found Piracetam (and its analogs, Oxiracetam, Aniracetam) helped. Those are Nootropics. They don’t exactly calm you down, they help you keep thinking straight in stressful situations.

      I’m careful of taking too much Xanax. Sometimes people who have the paradoxical reaction get violent mania and I think PTSD makes it a little more likely. It will occur with most people if the dose is high enough. If one helps, five might be a serious mistake.

      And exercise. I get a lot of exercise. I don’t think I could cope without that. Sometimes it takes hours out on the bike to calm down, but it always happens.

      Sleep is hard. It helps me to take 50-100 mg of niacin (the flush inducing kind) when I lie down. The flush takes some getting used to, but it helps me get to sleep. I use melatonin when I wake up in the night to get back to sleep, sometimes I use it when I lie down.

      I got myself a low-end hyperbaric chamber and oxygen generator. When I really can’t sleep in the wee hours I get up and turn it on, go lie in that. Usually I get to sleep, not sure why. I try to do that once a week.

      It never really goes away. But it’s manageable.

  154. John N

    September 17, 2012 at 9:12 pm

    Thanks Rob.
    You’ve generated a lot of healthy comments and responses here. Hopefully, more people will see that they are not alone in their struggles. I know, for me, that the medication by itself was not
    enough. I am grateful to the VA for providing the counseling to go
    with it; it really helped.
    I wish more people understood that this is a condition we would just
    rather not have. Somedays the hyper-alertness is mentally painful.
    My mother walked up behind me while I was doing laundry from a direction I was not expecting and it took half an hour for my heart
    to stop hammering through my chest.

  155. Bruce Tanner

    September 17, 2012 at 10:05 pm

    How the well expressed article intertwines with the memories of experience with dog,s tear gas & riot squads in black weilding nite sticks as they proceeded to the line of gathers in societal response of desire to stop the War in Vietnam! Draft ended my call with number classification less than one hundred. Industrial construction career of twenty years would bring about my ENLISTMENT to Department of Navy as Seabee Builder at the age of thirty five to excell well enough to bring about a beast of Professional building,killing machine. I am the keeper of the beast that served to learn what it is to find your own kind are not for you but against you. Living in the world dancing to the systems beat on a solid foundation across the line of delusion…We the willing; doing the impossible; for the ungrateful; have done so much; with so little; for so little; are now qualified to do anything; with nothing; for nothing; Thank you next assignment Please

  156. Robert

    September 17, 2012 at 10:12 pm

    Rob,
    Thanks for the great article.
    And yes, it’s very true that the Military doesn’t want to acknowledge or deal with PTSD.
    My oldest Step-son was Sgt Brad Eifert, covered by the New York Times about a year ago after his PTSD, diagnosed in May of ’10, after a middle of the night call to his mother, and a few days of me talking to people I really considered good friends with well placed military contacts.
    Brad, as I said, was diagnosed in May, and between May and August, received extensive treatment at facilities ranging from Ann Arbor Mi all the way to Fort Knox.
    On Aug 10, 2010, after a fairly intense episode, Brad called the Army, to transport him to Fort Knox for additional treatment. As the military transport (a couple of lowly sluffs from the local recruiting batallion) were taking his car back to his house, they stopped at a convenince store and handed him his keys, and told him he was on his own.
    The result of that night changed Brad for the worse from that day, to the day he died, on September 4th of this year, leaving him with a 7 month stint in the local jail, where the sheriff wouldn’t let him shave for 3 months, and kept lights on in his cell 24/7. He was finally released to the local V.A. treatment facility 7 months later, after his case was moved to a new “Veterans Court”.
    After completion of a few months treatment at the V.A., a program called Warrior Salute donated 6 months of PTSD treatment to Brad, and we really knew he was making great progress, then a week before he retuirned, his wife dropped a wrecking ball on him, announcing that she would be moved out when he returned home, and asked him to file for divorce. That was in June, and we could see the depression caused by the divorce, as well as $30,000 in various bills dumped on him in the divorce.
    Brad died alone in a motel room, after a lady he had met, and who had recently moved in with him, went there with him, took off sometime in the middle of the night with his car, phone and computer, and left him for motel employees to find. today, as I write this, the family is still waiting for the police to issue a final report so we can find out if his death was his way of ending the PTSD, and all of the follow-on problems, or the result of meeting the wrong people in his dispair.

    The Family of Sgt. Brad Eifert

  157. Samantha Pendleton

    September 17, 2012 at 10:23 pm

    It’s not just PTSD. I’m a civilian with bipolar disorder — in fact, that’s what kept me out of the Navy — and I often see the same fears and assumptions about my condition. I take my meds, I go to work, I maintain a relationship, I manage my finances, I keep a home. It took me many more years than it does most people to learn those skills, but now I am just as functional a member of society as any other.

  158. James McGill

    September 17, 2012 at 10:28 pm

    RU Rob,
    U R My Friend. I have PTSD and TBI. I get scared alot, in pain and have trouble thinking. No one knows I struggle so much. I’m a good person and saved lives. Some days I don’t think I am and it hurts. God has blessed me with good friends and family that has helped me and I can’t even say thank you. I am having trouble trying to say this…thank you for everything you have done and said. I pray everyday that my battle will end soon but I am not sure it will ever end. I did my part now I have to get my other parts back. Thx Friend you have helped me.
    James

    • SMJ

      September 18, 2012 at 3:38 pm

      James, It took a lot of courage for you to even post on this site. I wish the best of healing to you. SMJ

  159. Michelle McMillen

    September 17, 2012 at 11:21 pm

    http://ptsdusa.net/

    Two of our sons is involved in the group here in Houston, Texas. It has helped so many like you! The vets meet in groups and family members meet in separate group and they discuss their issues and go through a faith based workbook. It is a powerful ministry reaching out to many!

    Thank you for your service!

  160. PTSD Mom

    September 18, 2012 at 4:03 am

    My son has served 3 tours of Duty in Iraq and came home a changed man. I have a laundry list of the chaos that has ensued since his return 3 years ago. In short we have watched him loose his friends, his marriage, his family and he is about to loose his home and his son. We cannot talk to him because he will not listen.

    My days are spent wondering if today is the day where his world comes crashing down. We have prayed for him to hit bottom and many times he came so close. He keeps getting up and reaching an all new low.

    I am tired and live with the fear that today might be the day.
    Will he take his life? Will he end up in jail? Will he hurt someone? The “Will He” never stops in my head.

    I go to bed and wake up thinking about it. It’s 3am …………………………………………………………….

  161. RMR

    September 18, 2012 at 5:55 am

    Those who think most about stress, have it.
    Those who think most about peace, have it.
    Best of success.

  162. Diane

    September 18, 2012 at 7:45 am

    Thank you so much for your story. My son came home from Afghanistan in May and is battling PTSD with nightmares, anger, depression, insomnia and anxiety . It took me to write the Admiral for 1MEF and a congressional letter to allow his unit to go to his appointments. They told him to do it on his own time and that he was to go to a field op for 5 weeks that was more important. He is to get out of the Navy in December and would have never gotten the care he needed otherwise. I was furious and went forward. I was not going to sit back and keep quiet. This was my son and he had the guts to come forward and admit he had issues and for the military to tell him it didn’t matter was disgusting. He lost 2 very close friends while there and is having a very hard time dealing with it. No matter what is in the news, these men and women are still being shoved to the curb and the military thinks they will just let the VA deal with it. They are now doing it to my son’s best friend who was deployed with him and who tried to save his 2 friends. Shame on them. I commend you for writing this.

  163. HeatherB

    September 18, 2012 at 7:48 am

    I found your essay to be enlightening and it tugged at my heart. I am not in the military, nor do I have anyone close that is. That being said I pray for our military every night, they have my support and my gratitude. They are our heros. I met a friend online who use to call me late at night while he was on tour just to talk. I felt privileged that he would share with me, a total stranger, what he could not tell his family. I am no one, but I offer my ear and a shoulder to lean on for anyone that wants it. It is my simple way to help those that have protected me and mine. Thank you to all who have served and to those that are currently serving.

  164. Tricia C

    September 18, 2012 at 7:57 am

    God bless you and God bless all of you. May he keep you in his arms and walk your path with you. I pray everyday for my son, who walks the same path, but I know that he has God in his heart and in his life and I can ask for no more. Be what you are – strong, right and much to be proud of. Those that cannot see, don’t deserve to see. God bless America and the American way of life. And thank you, thank you.

  165. Greg

    September 18, 2012 at 8:20 am

    It does get better brother. Forty years after Vietnam, the memory dims somewhat.

  166. Susan H.

    September 18, 2012 at 9:41 am

    My thanks to Rob and each of you service members and to the loved ones who have shared your struggles and your hopes. I have ,PTSD, not from military service, but from an abuse history. I can relate to the frustration of dealing with something triggering the symptoms (for me hypervigilance, dissociation, depression, anxiety, switching between feeling like I want to flee or sometimes freezing up). Anyway, like Rob said, there is help out there. My husband is a VA mental health social worker and is helping the veterans he serves find relief. I know from my own work with a therapist that it is a struggle and you do have to work at it. Remember for the person, (veteran or otherwise)who suffers from PTSD, our responses are normal, it is the circumstances (war, abuse, disasters, crime, etc) that are abnormal. For those with extended exposure to life threatening events, it is even more so. To each of you, I pray for you to find relief and peace. -Susan

    • SMJ

      September 18, 2012 at 3:33 pm

      Many thanks Rob for writing this article. I am a healthcare provider and have found that PTSD is significantly underdiagnosed. I also have PTSD and did not seek treatment for for many years as I was too ashamed.

      I think it is important to be willing to share with others in an appropriate setting that people “like us” that seem to have it together (ha ha)are highly functioning, perfectly safe individuals. We may have more empathy, we may not sweat the small stuff, or we may be triggered by something that is insignificant to another.

      Individuals with PTSD are not any weaker than the next person. We have seen or experienced things we are not meant to see or experience. We have survived and are doing our best to be as healthy as possible.

  167. Bandit

    September 18, 2012 at 11:33 am

    Bravo Zulu!

  168. Pamela Heyen

    September 18, 2012 at 11:39 am

    A deeply heartfelt thank you to all who have served our country! I work with and support the homeless veterans organization within my community and have found PTSD to be debilitating for so many of our veterans no matter which war they served. The side effects of the medications they are given are more of a concern to me than the PTSD itself. Drugs seem to be the only treatment option and expense covered for these Veterans through their VA benefits. The stigma of being labeled with PTSD makes employment and housing an impossible challenge for so many Veterans, and results in many opting out of society and the system. It is my prayer that alternative therapies become a covered expense and an option for those who wish to pursue that path. Until that time, I continue to pray for my Dad, and all the Veterans, as well as their families, who have sacrificed their health & well being for this country!

  169. Angela

    September 18, 2012 at 12:15 pm

    If it matters at all….most of us out there know when we see PTSD in then news (used to explain a bad situation)….we know that it is a very small fraction of those dealing with PTSD who commit violent acts on self and others. We know there are millions of warriors and citizens alike dealing with varying degrees of PTSD. We are all behind you, and we cannot imagine how difficult it is to deal with.

    Thank you for your service, your dedication, and your continued battles.

  170. Jason

    September 18, 2012 at 12:20 pm

    You mentioned getting in contact with you, and i am having some pretty bad PTSD issues from my time in the marines, and am having a hard time dealing with them How can i get in contact with you? I have no where else to go. I have looked into support groups, shrinks, religous leaders, ect and i dont know what to do anymore. Please help!!!!!!

    • Rob

      September 18, 2012 at 9:02 pm

      Jason, I just sent you an email. Hang in there brother.

  171. Kris

    September 18, 2012 at 1:25 pm

    Thanks for your post…very well said. My heart goes out to you and the many others who have served in our armed forces. Thank you for your service.

    The stigma attached to PTSD is awful and uncalled for. In my opinion, isolating people with PTSD is the worst thing to do (i.e., avoidance by family members/co-workers/friends, dead-end job interviews, etc.). And then there are folks who may be nice to you, but they really want nothing to do with you. Our society has lost what it used to have. Qualities like love, mercy, forgiveness, kindness, compassion, and gentleness are no longer commonplace…they are the exception.

    You pack a weapon? Good for you. I don’t. But I feel safer knowing that you do. At least you know how to use it and when.

    Am I a vet? No. Have I had stress in my life that still impacts my thoughts and dreams. Yes, I have. Call it what you may, but I also have dreams that are a vivid and/or exaggerated version of what happened to me. And the dreams/thoughts sometimes occur during the day. Are they as traumatic as what you and other service members experience? No. But I have an idea of what you go through. Any number of sights, smells, thoughts, or words can trigger the memories. God keeps me in check, and for this I am very grateful.

    Any other civilians here wondering what they can do to help? Give to a local charity. Volunteer your time. Do a search in your local community by calling around, or checking online for ways to volunteer to help veterans. Your local Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) is a good place to start. Hang an American flag outside your home. Practice the ideals this country was founded on.

    • Kris

      September 18, 2012 at 10:16 pm

      Want to help someone on active duty who is deployed overseas? Try AnySoldier.com

  172. Patrick W. O'Connor

    September 18, 2012 at 2:00 pm

    Rob,Your essay is great.The link to it was just posted on our closed facebook page for the 35th Inf Regt (Army)Assn.We first organized and started to find each other in 1999,being with each other and sharing our experiences has helped to heal.I know that being in touch with my buddies has answered many questions and addressed many issues that are hard for others to understand.My Dad spent about a year in hospital and rehab after being wounded on Leyte in 1944,the Army kept guys from the same units together and they did not have the same problems we did.
    Pat O’Connor
    A&D Cos 2/35th Inf
    1968-1969

  173. Robert Hedrick

    September 18, 2012 at 2:36 pm

    Rob,
    Thank You for putting the article out there.
    When i went to the VA to get help,
    They told me i did not qualify to be labeled PTSD because i don’t have Flash Backs or Daymares, but the nightmares are really bad sometimes.
    Reliving the situation.

    Thanks Again

  174. Ofelia Leon

    September 18, 2012 at 3:27 pm

    I thought of sugggesting to check out a gentle and research based treatment called Somatic Experiencing designed by Dr. Peter Levine.
    Many mental health professionals are taking this training in Canada.
    May this information be useful to anyone out there feeling like PTSD has taken over your life. Hang in there: there are solutions and support!
    With warm regards and respect.

  175. David Hartford

    September 18, 2012 at 5:03 pm

    God Bless my Brother!

    I have my nightmares, sweats and am fortunate enough to have a wife who has learned to help me or just stay out of the way when she needs to!
    Great article!

  176. Tony & Janet Seahorn

    September 18, 2012 at 9:36 pm

    Peace be with you on your journey…

  177. Judi

    September 19, 2012 at 2:06 pm

    Thank you for writing this very important post.

  178. Jason Barnes

    September 19, 2012 at 3:17 pm

    I hope the media catches onto this. I’ve delt with those same issues.
    I’ve gotten the “Thank you for serving our country” and I would reply “you’re welcome”. But when they ask “Are you one of those Soldiers who has PTSD?”, my usual response is simply “yeah”. Then they get this look on ther face and they act like theyre walking on egg shells.
    I try to explain to them that even they get nightmares, mine are just more vivid than thiers.
    Col. Dave Grossman had written numerous books on the topic of PTSD and even a DVD set called “The Bullet-Proof Mind”. He explains that its normal for it happen to someone who endures those kinds of things.

    Just because PSTD isnt completly understood, doesnt mean it’s something to be afraid of.

  179. DC

    September 19, 2012 at 7:33 pm

    I have so much respect for all of our American soldiers who have served our country. I don’t believe enough people understand the huge sacrifices you have all made for the rest of us civilians sitting around at home. I believe our country should do much, much more to help soldiers with physical and mental effects of their service; I don’t think enough is being done for them compared to how much hey have done for us.
    I say thank you all for who you are and what you have done for all of us. I am so sorry for all the suffering you have gone through and it makes me very angry that here is so much stigma associated PTSD. I am glad to see this essay and hope that more and more he general public will understand the reality soldiers face every day without complaint.
    Be well all of you, and thank you. You don’t hear it enough but there are those of us who admire and appreciate what you have given.

  180. greg

    September 19, 2012 at 10:51 pm

    mid 1980 i went into a V.A. and was told “we don`t want to hear any Vietnam stuff here”.took another 3 years before i started getting help.was lucky to have survived 10 years of alcohol,near insanity, and motorcycles.good to read things have got better in some ways. like to say the rucksack of life has got lighter, but can`t. do hope present and future combat vets,even rotor heads, get a early start on dealing with PTSD and avoid the booze and street drugs,which only exasperate and distort .life is worth living-stick with it.

  181. Mike Satcher

    September 20, 2012 at 11:27 am

    Very well said, brother. After about 6 years of living with PTSD, I don’t even know that I consider it a negative in my life anymore. I’m grateful for the hyper vigilance that allows me to be a better “sheepdog”, and have learned to accept all the rest that comes along with it. Bottom line is, it’s been a huge factor in who I am today, and I’m more than happy with that person.

    Anyway, keep driving on. We need more people like you clearly communicating the realities of this issue.

  182. shane

    September 20, 2012 at 12:30 pm

    Well said my friend well said! The stigmatism is not warranted though we have our struggles, we are strong enough to except and control them. Ever much a silent professional a “sheepdog”

  183. Luis

    September 20, 2012 at 1:58 pm

    Went through the depreesion- alcohol and drugs early 1970s. Didn’t understand why! Got hold of myself and began to function for over 30 years. Than suddenly in 2005 completely lost control for two weeks. Could not cope. Lot of fear. Anger? and again it recessed into the dark area of my mind. I guess I will never be free of it.

  184. Dick

    September 20, 2012 at 5:14 pm

    Some advice from an old counselor. When you find yourself going through hell, keep on going! Find a counselor, or someone who is a good helpful, caring listener and talk with them. Hold nothing back. They will walk through hell with you till you find your way out. Peace.

  185. J

    September 20, 2012 at 5:53 pm

    Nights are bad but the days can be hell.

  186. Liz Adame

    September 20, 2012 at 6:46 pm

    wow. thanks for always being the “sheepdog” we always need, a true hero in my eyes…but mainly thanks for being honest and accepting your situation as it is. Thanks for clarifying a lot of unanswered questions.

  187. Bob H.

    September 21, 2012 at 5:38 am

    Thanks. Everyone who ever experienced close quarter combat has some degree of PTSD. During the Vietnam Era and before it was called Combat Fatigue and nobody knew what it was or how to treat it so rest was the only answer…..only it wasn’t.
    Thank you for your Service and Welcome Home.

  188. Buck

    September 21, 2012 at 12:32 pm

    How did you know MY life’s story? I thought that I was able to hide it from everyone. I worked, I married, I got along with everyone, I never got in trouble. When I got back from Vietnam in ’69, I watched my friends drink themselves into a stupor to cope. It made me stop drinking and I looked for other ways to cope. I never was able to put some things out of my mind. I wish I could. The times I wake up in the middle of the night, anxious and heart beating like mad, still scare the heck out of me, especially when I can’t put sights and sounds out of my mind for hours afterwards. I joined the VFW, but never even told the VFW about my PTSD. I still fight this battle alone. I’ve found my own ways. It’s never easy. I left my wife for no good reason. She was always very understanding and is still. I now live alone, but only because I don’t have to think of excuses for why I am the way I am. This way I am not hurting someone else. It’s quiet here, just the way I like it. Am I paranoid? Maybe so. I have guns, but I don’t hunt anymore. I sleep with a gun by my side every night even though I’ve never been threatened. Why am I always on the alert for trouble? Why do I have to always watch my back? I don’t know. I want to be in control again, and happy, like I was before. I think that’s it. That’s what is missing. I’m not in control of me anymore and I don’t like it. What the heck am I writing this for, anyway. I tripped over your article and just got csught up with what you had to say. I saw myself.

    • Ashwaq

      November 14, 2012 at 12:07 am

      I am Ashwaq Masoodi, a reporter from Columbia Journalism School. I am doing a story on
      soldiers who return home from conflict and how they experience post traumatic stress
      disorder.

      I will appreciate if you would be willing to share your story with me. I come from a conflict zone and do understand and feel the pain and suffering conflict inflicts. This story is really important for me and getting the human voice is essential. I cannot just base my story on statistics. It is about people and so I request you to help me.

      Please email me at am3860@columbia.edu

  189. Sapper7

    September 21, 2012 at 1:38 pm

    I understand what your going through; and I think it’s cool that you share your no bullshit reality of it. Alot of us got it; I didn’t think I did; and after going through a couple of stressful years prior to retiring; I was in a Battalion training and maintenance meeting that we had to endure every week and one our Commanders started talking shit about my NCO’s in front of everybody and the usual down the nose attitude to me; and I kinda freaked out I guess and started screaming at the guy and threatening to kick his ass; the rage I felt; the way my blood was boiling and my head felt like it was going to explode. Luck for me one of my best friends was at the meeting and stopped me; and after a long talk with my friends and the CSM I went in for some counseling. It was the best thing I ever did; I had no idea that all the bottling up was eating me from the inside out. I still have those bad nights and days but now I talk to friends and try and cool down like the therapist I was seeing showed me. It does help. I to have seen in the media labeling; and that is frustrating. It also pisses me off when guys that always been screwups use it as excuses. I use to be a big Mel Gibson fan until I watched one of his movies a couple of years ago and the guy he was portraying was an ex-vet(as usual, even though he never served and his family moved to Austrailia so his brother could get outta serving in Vietnam)tough guy cop; and he ws talking to another guy and made a very derogatory statement about PTSD; man it pissed me off; I hate that guy now. But anyway, Hooah-Airborne and all that stuff for your sharing and getting awareness out to other Vets. Thanks man.
    Smitty
    US Army(R)

  190. Just Me

    September 21, 2012 at 11:08 pm

    Society ties ‘military service’ to PTSD, and they know “PTSD” is a “mental illness.” And of course you know a mentally ill person is unstable, unpredictable and can’t be trusted. Just look at (Colorado shooter, Virgina Tech shooter, etc etc etc) they were all “mentally ill”. Until this world stops seeing “mentally ill” as anything but a horror show waiting to happen, we’ll keep having to hide and pray that we don’t keep losing our full rights at citizens. (Check your state, you may need to list your PTSD when you renew your license…or be breaking the law. Don’t police need to know your emotional state when they pull you over….?) Truth is, they don’t, and only you and your therapist/doctor do. Anyone we share our “illness” with should feel honored that we trust them so much to risk being vilified for something we had no choice in. You are a brave, brave man for sharing with so many people, what for (obviously) most are unable to. We are stronger than “normal/healthy” people because they only deal with day-to-day stresses. We deal with everyday stresses and then our own physical stresses. And we keep on going, one foot in front of the other. Why? Because we *ARE STRONG*.

  191. Todd

    September 22, 2012 at 2:41 am

    RU Rob,

    Great piece. I hope you do not mind that I have linked to this post in my blog.

    As a first responder with PTSD, I have long thought my situation was completely different than a combat veteran who also has PTSD. This essay shows me that we are not that different.

    Don’t get me wrong – I would never compare my time in the streets to your time in a combat zone. It was just very interesting to me to read about some of your behaviors – avoiding crowds, not sitting with your back to the room, hyper-vigilance….These are all behaviors I also exhibit. The thought processes behind these behaviors maybe different, but the result is the same.

    My thanks to you and your brothers and sisters in arms for your service. I hope you are not offended by my comparisons – they are made with the utmost respect.

  192. Paul E

    September 22, 2012 at 7:04 pm

    Thank you.

  193. Shannon Blaylock

    September 23, 2012 at 8:35 pm

    My brother killed himself 5 years ago – about 6 months after returning home from Iraq. Everyone blamed his PTSD, but to be honest, I always thought it was a scapegoat. People have a natural need to blame someone or something in the wake of tragedy. There is no doubt that he had PTSD, but he was stronger than that – he had to be to endure all that he had over there – but I think he let the negative stigma determine his destiny, on top of feeding whiskey to his demons every night. I wish he could have read this back then. Maybe he’d still be here today. Thank you for sharing, and most of all for keeping it real.

  194. Bret

    September 29, 2012 at 8:31 pm

    This “injury”(PTSD) is a totally normal reaction to what we’ve been through. Normal, as in it should be expected. If we came back to society acting like we were just at summer camp then that should rightfully raise major concern. Our daily struggle is beyond explanation. Without an experienced guide to help us grow into a new sense of self (which almost none of us have) we are left abandoned in the dark, searching for who we once were, the fleeting memory of a time when we were happy and life made sense. This futile trap all too often drives us to the point of complete exhaustion, sweeping depression and clinching frustration. Most of us are desperately holding on to a portrait of who we once were, frantically searching for the shattered pieces that once made us whole; before the primal carnage of warfare fractured our identity. We continually suppress the fear that the pain will never subside; that we are damned to an existence of misery and solitude. It’s not until we realize that we’ve fundamentally changed, permanently and to no fault of our own, that we can begin the quest to claim the fruitful life we all deserve. We will never be who we once were. It’s impossible to attain and it’s pursual has destroyed too many of our nation’s finest. Very few of us discover we are on a journey, the soldier’s journey. Homer’s “Odyssey” is a testament to this daunting endeavor. I was amazed at the connection. We’ve seen things no one should bear witness to. We’ve endured hardships few could imagine. Some of us had to murder our own souls to be able to stare death in the face and complete the mission. The ageless environment of war always demands the warrior corrupt the moral and ethical framework of his being. So, to look at those of us who are tirelessly searching for our happiness again with any sort of ignorant judgement is not only stupid and ungrateful but potentially dangerous. We might just give you a glimpse of the substance that makes a real man and crush your inflated ego, remorselessly take your self confidence and possibly your girl, too. We are on a completely different level. You won’t get it and you never will. Your wisest course of action is to know you will never know and give us the respect we all deserve. We will give you back the same respect you have given us. Guaranteed. We are the real deal.

  195. Brian Gillum

    October 1, 2012 at 8:42 am

    Bravo! Exceptionally well stated.

    The only caveat I would have added, is that while PTSD is most prevalent in the military service members who have seen, heard and experienced combat, it is not limited to, nor exclusive to the military nor combat, but can occur in anyone who believes that they are in mortal danger, and once survived that danger have difficulty mentally and emotionally processing that experience so that it doesn’t become a regular visitor upon our daily lives.

    Well said, my friend, well said.

  196. Chase

    October 9, 2012 at 3:09 am

    I’m glad to have read this. Thank you for writing it, RU Rob. Good luck and blessed be.

  197. Jack

    January 11, 2013 at 7:26 pm

    Lately I’ve noticed that I don’t remember my dreams upon waking, but my girlfriend says that I make noises in my sleep (like whining and calling out) and she tries to calm me down. I’ve been tired, unable to get restful sleep, and my girlfriend is constantly worried because when she tries to comfort me in my sleep, the slightest contact can result in me punching, kicking, and elbowing her away from me. I want to talk to her about my problems, but she doesn’t understand and a lot of my work I can’t bring up in the first place. I want to see a therapist or something, but I’m a security contractor and the first sign of any mental or emotional instability and I lose my clearances and licenses. What am I supposed to do? I’m trying to just suck it up and drive on, but it’s causing friction in my relationship, with my family, and with some of my coworkers. What options do I even have?

  198. Rollin

    January 30, 2013 at 12:45 am

    this is for the soldiers:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GpTthHDD9iQ

  199. Matt

    February 11, 2013 at 11:38 pm

    Thanks for this man. It’s a good feeling when someone with the similar combat experiences can put what I’m going through into words. When deployed, our minds block out emotion because that’s how the military reprogrammed us to be. But transitioning back into normal life again, all these emotions and flashbacks seem to flood back into our heads. It’s nice to know I’m not alone and this article has inspired me to get some help. Thanks again brother.

  200. Steven Cardoza

    February 26, 2013 at 3:04 am

    Good truth and great words for sure, ROB, I have PTSD, but it is not because I want to go kill someone,,

    Will i kill someone? what a stupid question to even ask a veteran.

    I love all the new comers out there,, i really do,, you talk the the talk, i was your very best friend in combat, and now i am some sort of a idiot, and i have mental problems and now i am not eligable for certian jobs, you want to take my clearances away from me, you want to also take my firearms as well?

    You don’t want to give me anything more than you have to do for me.or others.

    Hey! What the heck happen when I was your very best friend?? In Iraq & Afghanistan

    Thanks, for your service and your loyalty to our country.

    Steve…… Rear Gunner Convoy OPS 2004

  201. Ruth

    March 25, 2013 at 9:58 pm

    Hi my name is Ruth, and I have PTSD. I’m not a Veteran and have never been in a armed service, “But I have been in a war with PTSD since my late 20′s”. I had a very traumactic childhood and I have lived most of my adult life as a alcoholics wife, also I served as a Paramedic on the streets of a violent town for over 10 yrs. I’m 49 and was told 2yrs ago by a Doctor that I have PTSD. I wanted to share my story with other’s but most people with this are wounded with this invisable disease are Vetererans. I would like to thank all of you that have fought for this country USA and to know that you are in my prayers always. I have a FB site called PTSD staying strong so other’s can come and share there thought, feelings and help me too get through each day. Please visit and come often to help me stay strong. I’m on a medical leave right now because my husband went on a binge and almost killed himself and others. It has triggered the PTSD in the last 2 years. I had to tell my bosses that I had it, because it was affecting my work, and since I work in a Hospital in patient pharmacy I have to be able to concentrate on Lab values and I keep getting the numbers all mixed up and I almost lost my job, but after telling them why, I got called into the office where my mangager and HR was waiting to tell me, “that people were coming to the office saying they were afraid I was a Shooter”. This was very traumatic for me and caused more confusion for me. Oh yes remember me saying I work at a hospital!! Talk about ignorant Health care workers!
    And did I mention this happened during their shooter awareness month. Talk about going to hell in back in a hospital minute. Now I can keep re-living this for the next 20yrs of my life, I have people telling me to just let it go. And my response to all this is what in the hell do think I’m going through this is a symtom!! Stay strong I need your help to get through this, I’m not sure I’m going to make it Ruth

  202. Josh

    April 1, 2013 at 2:08 pm

    As a caveat, this article says we are “armed but not dangerous.” I’d like to say that we are dangerous, we are just good as well. Its the paradox of having something that is, in its nature, dangerous but is also good. That is why we are sheep dogs, and the sheep will never like the fact that we are dangerous. They think it makes us evil, but to the contrary, it makes us a higher good in that we can harm, but choose to only do so to the wolves.

  203. Patrick H

    April 1, 2013 at 11:20 pm

    I would like to thank you for this article. As a veteran and person who lives with PTSD, thanks for helping people to understand us. We just look out for others and our families. We want to make sure those we care about can’t be harmed.

    Patrick

  204. Roger R

    April 2, 2013 at 11:26 am

    Great article. I too live the war I have never left. Hang in there my brother and seek out your own kind for comfort and support.

    Semper Fi
    RVN 68/69
    Kilo 3/7

  205. Shane

    April 2, 2013 at 10:28 pm

    Thanks Rob. I would share it with my team mates, but they really are all dead but one, who is still in, sort of…
    It is especially hard for me because of that, and because I work in an industry (software) that doesn’t see a lot of combat vets. But just knowing you guys are out there makes me feel better.

  206. Michael

    April 4, 2013 at 5:28 pm

    Thank you. Im sitting at work (all caught up and slightly ahead) and I came across this posting. Man, poetic but not pantywaisted! HOOAH. I kind of find it amusing because well, I know what ‘we’ are capable of…and how much it takes to hold back. People see the American Flag in my window (no flagpole but still illuminated at night… apartment life) and they think “oh, shit, he’s one of those guys.” I was told by a young Marine that I remind him of a 50′s combat vet. I simply said thank you. See, those guys had Standards. Ones men like us still hold ourselves too. So no, I wont snap.. I wont lose my control, I will remain vigilant. It’s a way of life (Living). Those that have never been there wont understand. Knowing there are others out there living with PTSDs…well, that makes all the difference when those nites come around and the ghosts come to say hello. So, thank you.

    Never Above you, Never Below you, ALWAYS by Your side!
    Tonite when the Brothers gather… we do so knowing we can because others like us are still out there Charlie Mike-n so we can relax …even if just a small bit.

  207. Jesse

    April 4, 2013 at 8:02 pm

    Awesome. “Oh Lord, I’m a soul who’s intentions are good,””Please don’t let me be misunderstood”

  208. David

    April 14, 2013 at 11:57 pm

    Hang in there and remember that you are suffering because you did what you had to do. I am a 30 + year police officer and there are a few events in my career that will haunt me forever. It took a long time for me to realize that seeking help is not a sign of weakness. I made a couple adjustments in my life and while I still have times that trouble me I can cope with life and for the most part life is okay now.

  209. oscar tapia

    May 30, 2013 at 9:04 pm

    the v a does`nt recognize the fact that many viet nam vets have been suffering from ptsd for over 40 yrs with no end in sight !

  210. Matt

    June 11, 2013 at 12:29 am

    I suffer the same. My nights are always a fight. To fall asleep bc I know what’s coming, and when I fall asleep the horrible sights, sounds, and smells always hit me. My days are just like you say I am a sheep dog watching my flock. I try to live a normal day but being exhausted doesn’t help. Finding a life long “battle buddy” is so hard because honestly how many woman want to put up with a man that sleeps like I do, fights depression, anger, and anxiety constantly? I don’t hurt anyone and I won’t unless you are a wolf trying to attack. And I keep my problems inside and deal with them when I can be alone. But when I drive I avoid trash or dead animals because I’ve seen them blow up to many times. I avoid crowds bc how do you trust people you don’t know? And how I remember going to watch fireworks as a child but can’t go for the sound brings back painful memories of destruction and death and pain itself. I don’t want this, I didn’t ask for this. I would gladly do it again so you don’t have to go through that hell that is war. But I would love to have a wife and a career and all the other things so often taking for granted in what most call a normal life. I’m not complaining or asking for pity bc it’s not what I am about. I signed up to protect those I love it was my choice, but is this the way my life will be? How do you get this to go away?

  211. AP

    June 16, 2013 at 6:54 am

    Can we please talk. I have PTSD, I need to talk to someone who understands, i need help. This is very hard for to even take this step. But I know it’s now or never. I don’t want any more regrets. We only live once right? Better to make the right choice now then regret not taking that chance later. When u jump, u go out w both feet. U take that chance. I’m taking that chance. It’s time. I need help. I don’t want to waist anymore time. Your story hit me like a truck. It broke me. Realizing I’m not the only one. I know that was hard for you to do that, but you taking that chance was worth it, it has given me the chance as well. Please contact me.

  212. Wife

    June 27, 2013 at 11:00 pm

    I am married to a man who has spent more time at war than not in the past 10 years. The first bout of PTSD was sadly the worst, he ran in bed at night, destroying a footboard, he woke choking me one night. However, he learned to contain it, but hating crowds, noise, loosing patience, tolerating folks banter less than he once did. After battling PTSD, and knowing what it is… Heck we are tired, functioning but tired. There is no more running, but he is no longer who he was. He is withdrawn, quiet, and indecisive. He does not enjoy people. Heck neither of us do. I think for the 1% that has fought this generations wars, there is no “real shared experience”, like there was when 5 people from your family served. The experience is not a shared, or normal one. That alone makes it an isolating experience. However, most of the time, I feel like we are faking it through, trying to fit in with our environment . Faking it is exhausting too……so I thank those who have fought for my family, those who have lost the person they once were. People that joined the military to help others, but cannot stand to be around those very people they chose to help.

    • leftoftheboom

      June 28, 2013 at 12:01 pm

      Hang in there. Each of us has a different path to recovery. I have enough knowledge and faith to know there can be a recovery and enough stubborn determination to tell you to keep fighting until the fake part becomes real.

      You are not alone by any means. I know what he is facing and I know it will get better but this truly is something that only time and perseverance can fix.

      Good luck to you. It will get better but it takes effort and time.

  213. David W

    June 28, 2013 at 9:24 am

    I served in DS/DS, Bosnia, Iraq twice, And Afghanistan.I have since been diagnosed with PTSD after an unfortunate accident evolving a co-worker. Long story short, 4 years a lot of meds and extensive counseling and the nightmares and hyper vigilance has all but ceased. Yes I still take my meds every day. but now I can go to the store before midnight and feel comfortably safe and not watch everyone that gets within arms reach of me. The VA center in Tuscaloosa has been a God send!!!! It took a while to find the right combination of meds to compensate the hyper-vigilance but in my opinion the best program that i went through is called post cognitive therapy. It sucked at first but within six months i was able to walk through the mall. Ask your therapist about this program, it really worked for me.

  214. Jacob

    June 28, 2013 at 9:36 am

    Confidential to AP: Brother, I’m sure RU Rob has already gotten back to you, but if you still need someone to talk to, hit me up at janarcsoiaccount@hotmail.com

    I never deployed, and would hesitate to say I have PTSD – my traumatic incidents weren’t directly service-related – but I still have the nightmares. Almost every night, I dream that I’m back in charge of a Platoon, only they’re made up of my friends and family. We’re coming under friendly fire somehow, and every night I watch my friends get killed one-by-one.

    If any person reading this needs someone to talk to, someone they never have to meet or speak to in person, my name’s Jacob and my e-mail’s above. I was an officer because I wanted to help soldiers, and if I can still do that in some small way, I will.

    You guys are incredible. The weakest of you humbles me with their strength. For those that served, thank you for your service. For those that suffered outside the military, I’m proud of you. Horrible things happen and sheepdogs like Rob and I, and all the others, wish we could’ve taken that bullet for you, but I’m proud to see you moving forward.

    This was way too verbose. Anyway, thanks for writing this, Rob. It’s so emotional to me to see soldiers still living their Creed. “I will never leave a fallen comrade.”

    RLTW

  215. Daniel

    June 28, 2013 at 5:20 pm

    I learned the hard way that not everyone thinks its ok to have PTSD. When I returned to civilian life, after being medically retired from the Army, I went to school using my GI Bill. In my final semester before getting my Bachelor’s degree I was discriminated against by a professor. He claimed I threatened him while arguing a grade. I had to go in front of disciplinary committee but so did he, as he had to tell them what was so threatening about me. In his comments to them he said, “No student with PTSD should be allowed in a classroom.” He also referred to me as a ‘killer’ and explained, “that is what they do, threatening and killing people was his previous job.”
    Unfortunately not everyone is ok with PTSD, but we are breaking the walls down.

  216. John

    August 1, 2013 at 12:19 am

    Well said. Going to the VA tomorrow, and my family (mom, sister, brothers, and a few close friends) could not be happier. Was I really that bad? How did I miss this? I am dreading having to walk into mental health and asking for help with I do not know what is wrong. But something is not quite right…

  217. Beth

    September 16, 2013 at 12:20 pm

    I have PTSD. It is not from the military; I am not a veteran. I apologize if this is the wrong place for my comment.

    But, I have PTSD. Thank you for writing this. When I was told that PTSD is what causes my insomnia, nightmares, hyper-vigilance, and so forth, my first thought was “But, I’m not a veteran. I can’t have PTSD.”

    Apparently I do. I cannot say I understand your struggles, but I do understand struggle. I wish for peace. For you and for myself.

    Thank you.

  218. Walter

    December 17, 2013 at 4:39 am

    Very good article. I definitely appreciate this site. Keep it up!

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